“Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
As we head into the end of a tough year, there seem to be an endless number of stories painting pictures of doom and gloom in the mining industry. In fact, millions of people who are dependent on the mining sector for their livelihoods are approaching the holidays feeling uncertain about what the future holds.
After witnessing many highs and lows throughout my career in the industry, I agree that these are some of the most challenging conditions that the industry has faced. However, knowing what the mining community is capable of, I am highly optimistic about the future. Why? Here are three reasons:
1) People Need our Products
Demand for minerals is strong, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. In the next 15 years, 470 million people in China, India and ASEAN will move into urban environments. In the history of mining, this level of demand creation has never occurred. What other industry in the world is generating new customers at this rate? Yes, prices, productivity and profits are all under pressure, however, we will tackle those challenges and advance the entire industry in the process.
2) ‘Nothing has More Strength than Dire Necessity’
History teaches us that adversity is a necessary ingredient for change. Most great progress occurs when the status quo is not comfortable. Think of all the great leaps forward for individuals, teams, conquests, and even countries. They are frequently preceded by a period of seemingly insurmountable challenges. It is just those intense threats that bring out the true genius within us, and the pure grit needed to punch through and change paradigms.
3) We are Ganging Up on the Problem
True Innovation, driven by widespread collaboration, is becoming mainstream in mining. I remember not too long ago, it was hard to have a conversation in our industry which did not involve either tyres or the lack of skilled labour, and the general attitude was every man for himself. Now, innovation is seen as the answer to unlock the potential of our resource wealth and Silicon Valley-like start-up thinking is taking hold in the mining industry. Perhaps more importantly, this isn’t an isolated instance–everyone that touches the industry is coming together to help reinvent the future of mining.
While the news of massive layoffs and low prices may cause some jitters, dig a bit deeper, and you’ll realize that these conditions are serving as a catalyst for transformative thinking. This innovative time will not reward the traditional behavior of the past, but rather daring and risk taking. I would argue this is the same vision that our industry forefathers used when they looked at barren landscapes and imagined ore laden trains heading to ports. So don’t get mired in all of the pessimistic outlooks–the future is bright. The industry is joining forces to take back control of our destiny, and together, we are creating a bold new era in mining.