Navigating the myriad of challenges facing it, Anglo American, the leading mining Company, has put in place the frameworks that will guide it to be Industry 4.0 ready. The FutureSmart MiningTM blueprint provides an innovation led pathway to sustainable mining incorporating amongst other things, enabling technology collaborative partnerships and the needs of host communities.
The blueprint introduces 4 concepts for the future of mining namely:
- Concentrating the mine (precision mining)
- the Water-less Mine
- the Modern Mine and
- the Intelligent Mine.
The mines sustainability plan focuses on 3 pillars namely trusted corporate leadership, a healthy environment and critically, thriving communities, the focus of this snapshot.
Improved technology, automation, artificial intelligence and other Industry 4.0 drivers will inevitably reduce the need for unskilled manpower. If not managed appropriately, the transition from a labour intensive industry to a high tech, highly skilled environment requiring much less labour will be fraught with conflict, disruption and complexity that stifles the transition.
The very survival of mines will depend on how it interacts and manages relations with its doorstep communities. Community development, broadly but specifically within organisations such as mines, therefore becomes a critical function requiring specific skills and focus.
Anglo American identified 3 areas of focus in its community development focus; education, health & wellbeing and livelihoods. In order to achieve the objectives set in terms of community development, numerous projects must be scoped, implemented, monitored while continuously interacting with stakeholders. And while it may be argued that this is not the organisation’s core business or focus, its very survival depends on it. This focus area of the mine transcends the line between the formal and informal economy and must deal with the complexity of our times and overcome new ethical, moral, legal challenges never faced before.