BHP Chief Transformation Officer Jonathan Price issued a warning to industry leaders at the Resources Technology Showcase that those who made sense of data would thrive and those who did not would falter.

“As technology continues to evolve in mining over coming years, the key to success will not be in collecting huge volumes of data but making sense of it, and the reality is too many of us work too hard for data when we really need data to work hard for us,” Mr Price said.

“A tangible example of this at BHP is our Maintenance and Engineering Centre of Excellence, which uses data to alleviate ripple effects across the supply chain which can cost time and money.

“Data helps us determine the conditions of equipment in real time and plan maintenance to pre-empt equipment failure so that it can be replaced before it breaks down, and this in turn can be used in machine learning algorithms to create smart alerts.”

Mr Price said another area data was being used was around shipping, with BHP technical managers working with ship owners and the ports to create an algorithm, which used data to better predict vessel safety performance and reduce risks and delays in the supply chain.

“Better planning can save a lot of money and this shipping initiative is expected to deliver millions of dollars in benefits beyond financial year 2020,” he said.

Mr Price predicted a world where technology found its way into every aspect of a resources company.

“Increasingly, technology is becoming a close partner of our operations and as a result, automation and robotics are being rolled out, and digitisation is helping planning and monitoring with far greater precision,” he said.

“One great initiative that has resulted from this work is a pedestrian avoidance system that is fitted to forklifts to improve safety, developed and tested in-house here in Welshpool and piloted at Eastern Ridge in Newman, Port Hedland and Nickel West.

“This approach is more typical of something you’d see in Silicon Valley than Perth, Western Australia.”

Another trend identified by Mr Price in his keynote speech was emphasising that carbon neutral operations would become a necessity, not a ‘nice to have’.

“At BHP, we accept the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment of climate change science, that warming of the climate is unequivocal, the human influence is clear and physical impacts are unavoidable,” he said.

“At present, there are others who might not feel this imperative but I think soon enough, pressure from society, investors and employees will force their hand.”