Are Mining Majors Ready to Take Full Advantage of Exploration Technologies?

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Innovators will need to be selective in co-development with majors (which can narrow focus and limit scaling potential) and be cautious about mergers seeking to hold IP for strategic advantage. Mid-tier miners will be good first customers for innovators, being more cash strapped and looking for efficiencies, whilst also being agile and looking for a competitive edge.

Mining majors who wish to capitalize on the full benefits of innovation must ensure internal structures are established to scale innovation beyond pilot, mitigate IP protectionism, and explore tech uses beyond their own operations and the mining industry.

It’s clear the mining industry is maturing when it comes to innovation but with oncoming challenges of supply pinches expected with rising demand for critical materials, flexibility in an inflexible system is required. With greater demand for critical materials, there is an increasing global trend of resource nationalism (e.g., Chile nationalized its lithium industry).

For innovators already strongly aligned with mining majors, it will be costly to pivot marketing to state-owned companies. Although with greater control of mines by governments who want to improve mining’s ESG performance, the use of exploration technologies, which boost the case for licenses to operate, may prove an advantage.  

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