New social contract necessary due to increasing automation

The Future of Mining

Sector Programme at Future of Mining 2019

07.10.2019 |

More than 170 industry representatives discussed the future of mining at a conference in London in early September. The debates focused on corporate responsibility, reducing the ecological footprint of mining operations - for example by integrating renewable energies into the energy supply of mines - and the effects of digitisation and automation on mining. The increasing pressure higher levels of automation have on the social license to operate of mining companies, i.e. their acceptance among communities, was discussed throughout the event.

The "Extractives and Development" sector programme was represented at the keynote panel on how the industry can work together with governments in tackling current and future challenges in the mining sector such as the increasing digitisation. Together with Mrs. Isabelle Ramdoo from the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF), the sector programme discussed options for technical cooperation with resource-rich emerging and developing countries to effectively address these challenges.

With reference to a World Bank study, the sector programme pointed out that modern mines using the latest technology produce up to eleven times as much yield as conventional mining companies, while employing only one seventh of the workers. This poses a major challenge to policymakers in resource-rich developing countries. The populations of many of these countries are growing rapidly, which increases the pressure on labour markets. Participants of the conference agreed that a new social contract between mining companies and local populations ought to guarantee job creation around mining operations despite increased levels of automation.

Here, the LION tool presented by the sector programme can play an outstanding role. The consultancy tool developed by BGR identifies market potentials in the supply industry around mining operations. In the copper belt, a copper-rich region in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the economic potential of local procurement is estimated between USD 5-6.5 billion annually.

The IGF project "New Tech, New Deal" also investigates the impact of digitalization for the creation of jobs in the mining sector. The initial phase provided an overview of new technologies applied in the mining sector. The use of technological innovations helps to make the mining process more energy-efficient, safer and more cost-effective. In the second phase of the project, investigations in countries such as South Africa and Chile will lead to recommendations of possible options for actions


For further information please contact Thomas Grupp.

BMZ glossary

Close window


Share page