Jake Klein never planned to be involved in gold mining – but it’s where fate and ambition led him. 

Innovation may have been the big buzz word in the mining sector for a number of years, but it has been thrown around so much it has become a vague concept with no real way of measuring its value.

In life, success can be measured in myriad ways, and it is no different in the resources sector where navigating change is par for the course for mining executives. 

To help understand the dynamics of mining boardrooms and the expectations placed on senior executives, National Mining Chronicle spoke to Mining People International General Manager Executive Search and Board Appointments Lindsay Craig. 

As a seasoned executive in the recruitment arena, Mr Craig said the success of a senior mining executive ultimately came down to their approach to leadership. 

“Leadership is about capability – both within yourself and in harnessing that of others,” he said. “As a CEO or senior leader in a business, your team needs to look to you for strong capability in strategy and vision. 

“A lack of clarity from senior executives can cause organisational setbacks.” 

To sustain competitive advantage over long periods of time, Mr Craig said it was important for the people within an organisation to understand its objectives and to be able to see the road ahead. 

“Be clear on your future strategy, be it as an explorer or producer, then design your organisation’s structure accordingly,” he said. 

Mr Craig said for people looking to succeed at an executive level in the Australian mining sector, being inquisitive and open to innovation was integral. 

“An inquisitive mind combined with good communication skills enables leaders to articulate their vision or strategy,” he said. “Underpinning this is commercial acumen; how will this deliver strong shareholder returns.” 

For executive leadership teams, Mr Craig said it was crucial for everyone to clearly understand what the end objective was. 

“It is important to understand the future direction of the organisation,” he said. “Then it comes down to the board skills and composition needed for the journey.” 

Mr Craig said politicians could learn a thing or two from the mining industry on collaboration. 

“Collaboration comes back to strategy and vision,” he said. “If it is sound, tested, articulated well and reviewed collectively, then dissent becomes less of an issue. 

“Given the level of maturity in an organisation around collaboration, it extends bilaterally across industry. Then the industry and society as a whole benefit.” 

While all board members have a natural working life or tenure, Mr Craig said their effectiveness should be continually measured , while senior executives needed to demonstrate maturity through self-reflection and knowing when it was time to depart. 

“Remember you are there for all the shareholders,” he said. 

With today’s mining sector operating around the clock at a scale never seen before, Mr Craig said there was a greater need for companies to remain current. 

“Ensure you have someone accountable for this element of your businesses future,” he said. “If you can’t be at the forefront of it with your own research and development, then you best be a fast follower.” 

 

One of Australian mining’s leading thinkers, who has developed strategies for most of the major mining companies over the past 15 years, believes the real challenge facing Western Australia’s mining sector is finding the space and volition to plan and execute for the longer term within the heavy pressures of cycles and public company structures. 

With operational efficiency a key metric of success in the mining sector, many fall into the trap of attempting to optimise every facet of their process, according to Hendrik Lourens, owner of business optimisation consultancy Stratflow. 

Beginning her career in the mining industry as a 19-year- old haul truck operator with no formal qualifications, Jodi Moffitt’s impressive work ethic was underscored when she took out the Excellence in Mining gong at the Women in Industry Awards in June for her leadership and commitment in her current Operations Planning Manager role at Roy Hill.

It has been a long-running debate in Australia – should strict laws around nuclear energy be relaxed?

Starting a business from scratch is a challenge even in buoyant conditions, but doing so during an industry-wide slump would take that challenge to a whole new level.

Western Australia has taken another step down the lithium value chain, focusing on stages beyond the extraction of the diverse mineral.

As ramifications from the Brumadinho dam disaster continue to shake up global markets, the price of iron ore is being tipped to perform stronger for longer – and Australia’s big players are set to cash in.

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