CI in Mining and Engineering Industries
We caught up with Dr. Deonie Botha, market intelligence manager at Tenova Mining & Minerals, after her engaging presentation at this year's ICI conference entitled: "Developing and Implementing a Competitive Intelligence Strategy for the Natural Resources and Engineering Industries."
What are the latest and biggest challenges facing the mining and engineering industries?
The challenges that mining companies have to face will also impact on engineering companies. This is because mining companies are the clients of engineering companies. However, the external environment of engineering companies is far more competitive than that of mining companies. This is because engineering companies do not only have to be cognisant of the requirements of mining companies as their clients but they also need to be “intelligent” about their competitors and about new and competing technologies that enter the market. The biggest challenges for both the mining and engineering industries are: higher mineral/metal recovery, higher ore body utilisation, lower energy utilisation, reduced environmental impact and the ability to operate in remote locations.
What do you think companies in these sectors need to do to address these challenges?
Companies should continue to do what they have been doing in the past. However, I believe that many of the challenges that companies in the mining and engineering industries face can be pre-empted by introducing strategic intelligence earlier in the strategy formulation process. Engineering companies need to be informed about the needs of the mining companies and the behaviour of their competitors. Similarly, mining companies need to be informed about technologies in the form of equipment and solutions that can enable them to overcome their challenges. It really is about being more informed than your competitors and about being faster than your competitors.
You mentioned “automation” as the current trend in mining technology in your presentation at this year’s ICI conference, how do you think this will affect how CI is done in your field?
Many mining companies have already introduced automation in their operating models. However, some of them are struggling with the integration of “big data” to ensure that all the various “automated” equipment and systems are integrated effectively. This will enable them to optimise their resource-to-market processes. Automation is a typical example of a “complex system” and hence has technical, social and environmental factors that need to be considered. The introduction and consequent adoption of automation in the mining and equipment supply industries have “reminded” CI professionals that although we function in the mining and mineral processing industry we also need to have an understanding of various related industries. Effective CI still depends on the ability of the CI professional to integrate the political, economical, social, technological and environmental factors into the CI “thought-process”.
In your years of experience working as an intelligence practitioner in the mining and engineering industries, do you have any advice for those looking to follow the same path?
In my careers as a CI lecturer and also as a CI practitioner in the mining and engineering industries I have always been of the opinion that you need to be extremely interested almost to the point of being “passionate” about the industry in which you function. To a certain extent the mining and engineering industries are perhaps not as “fast moving” as the retail, telecommunications and information technology industries. This provides the CI practitioner with the opportunity to build good relationships and networks with individuals on both managerial level and technical experts. A keen and sincere interest in both the industry and individuals within the industry is always important to succeed as a CI practitioner and this is also true of the mining and engineering industries.
About Dr. Deonie Botha
Since 2006, Dr Deonie Botha has been involved with “intelligence” in the mining and mineral processing industries. She has been exposed to market intelligence at Anglo American Kumba Iron Ore and technology intelligence for Anglo American Plc. Currently, she is involved with market intelligence for Tenova Mining & Minerals which is a worldwide supplier of advanced technologies, products, and engineering services for the iron and steel as well as the mining and mineral processing industries. She has also lectured at the University of Pretoria in South Africa on competitive intelligence, has presented numerous workshops and papers on the topic and authored a book on competitive intelligence which will be out early 2014.
Written by Jerome Maisch
Marketing Manager @digimindci. Passionate about big data & social marketing. Photography, music and hiking lover