A survey of 374 mining companies with operations around the world found that the top priority is worker safety followed by managing capital projects.
Ventyx, an ABB company, conducted the survey. It is the third-annual Mining Executive Insights survey, revealing new trends and shifting attitudes around workforces, capital investments and technology.
Completed in late 2012, the majority of respondents were C-level executives, vice presidents or directors across the full spectrum of mining sectors, including coal, gold, copper, iron ore, zinc and nickel.
When asked to identify their current priorities by level of importance, this year’s respondents replied: Ensuring workforce safety (31 percent); managing capital projects (25 percent); maximizing production effectiveness (21 percent) and ensuring equipment operates reliably and predictably (8 percent).
“Our research shows the mining industry remains cautious about the strength of global economic recovery. In response, many mining organizations have begun looking inward, especially in regard to the labor market. In doing so, they have shifted their focus from finding qualified workers anywhere, at any cost to ensuring the workforce they currently have is efficient, well-informed and safe,” said Bas Mutsaers, senior vice president of mining industry solutions, Ventyx.
Added Mutsaers, “At the same time, these companies aren’t seeing a tradeoff between worker safety and profitability. In other words, the same technologies and best practices that improve safety also improve performance and efficiency.”
The study demonstrated how closely mining executives correlate worker safety and mine productivity. When asked to identify their primary safety initiatives, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents selected “development of skills, best work practices and situation-based decision making.”
“As companies equip their workforces with new technologies – such as mobility solutions that enable faster access to information, regardless of location – they are finding they can change their traditional approach to training and skill development,” said Mutsaers. “There is definitely an opportunity for mining organizations to leverage emerging technologies to transform how they educate and empower their workers to reduce safety incidents and improve efficiencies. By delivering on-demand information to the point of work, for example, new mobility solutions can reduce the need to train workers for every possible situation while equipping them to make better on-the-spot decisions.”
Complete survey results can be found here.