Technology Adoption Through Innovation

At an energy in comminution workshop we conducted jointly with CEEC recently, the age old question of technology adoption by the industry was raised.

The mining and minerals industry in general is very slow to adopt technology and our panel on advanced control even suggested we are behind by 10-20 years (and they are not alone).

So why do we at CMIC believe we can break this technology adoption barrier?

The CMIC model is at the core of why I believe we can make a difference, accelerate technology development and adoption and in essence fundamentally transform mining.

A few key attributes of the CMIC model are described briefly below.

1.   Industry Wide Pre-Competitive Challenges

By tackling challenges at this level it ensures we have full participation and ownership from the industry and the “size of the prize” is significant.  Importantly, these challenges are directly tied to financial performance of individual companies and the fact that they are pre-competitive significantly lowers the barrier to collaborate effectively and focus on common core issues.

2.   Technology Roadmaps

At CMIC we have prepared, and continue to prepare, technology roadmaps across the mining business to tackle these challenges and identify not only the 10+ year targets but more importantly the smaller, incremental steps required to eventually get there.  The ultimate aim is the develop platforms of technologies and processes that can be readily adapted or modified to fit into individual operations rather than trying to create a one size fits all solution.  Not only does this allow for modification of a technology or process platform to create solutions for individual operations but also enables new product creation by suppliers.

A key ingredient in these scoping exercises is that they are designed and driven by industry, guaranteeing alignment to financial levers of  individual companies at all project stages.

This approach ensures not only a vested interest but ownership of the portfolios, programs, projects and the audacious targets being pursued.

3.   Open Innovation

Open innovation is an over used and often misunderstood term.  At CMIC we consider all 4 aspects of open innovation namely:

  • co-creation of solutions
  • shared intellectual property amongst project participants and the 500+ CMIC membership
  • identifying and adopting solutions that already exist from other industries
  • enhanced value creation through the expansion of existing markets for service providers, generation of new markets and the development of new partnerships

Open innovation in general creates value faster and cheaper, some suggest up to 10 times faster than traditional approaches.

4.   Collaboration

The majority of consortia and organizations in existence today that are tackling technology or other challenges, are typically founded on transactional relationships versus real collaboration.  These consortia and organizations are characterized by:

  • Boards or controlling bodies populated by organizations looking to protect their investment and extract as much value as possible versus recruiting the brightest in various areas to ensure sustainability and growth
  • Complex agreements that spell out precisely rights versus we all have the same rights
  • Complicated formulas or rules for participation versus 1 or 2 simple levels of participation

At CMIC collaboration is very real and very large.  Projects include demonstrations on-site rather than just lab scale test work.

Our intellectual property is open for access to all project participants and membership in general facilitating development and adoption of solutions.  Participation in projects is simple and universally accepted.

While none of these individually guarantee solutions will be adopted, collectively they provide a framework to accelerate technology uptake and significantly reduce the barriers that currently exist.

We refer to this approach as an open innovation business ecosystem and is based on a business model widely used by  software engineering, microelectronics, aerospace/defense, pharma, manufacturing etc.

CMIC is the first and only open innovation business ecosystem in the mining and minerals industry globally.

If anyone is curious to learn more about these models, a very quick introduction can be seen at this McEwen Mining Lunch & Learn held a few months ago.