OPINION: The future of the mining supply chain is people

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The industry is spending considerable resources in pivoting around supply chain issues, which present ongoing challenges in today’s ‘normal’. But it was the discussion around the supply chain of talent into the mining industry which dominated the discussion between procurement and commercial executives at this month’s Bowen Basin Mining Club’s May event.

Peter Mifsud, Head of Commercial at Bravus Mining and Resources sounded the alarm, citing the ‘S’ in ESG as an area that’s lagged behind the ‘E’ and the ‘G’ to some extent. He reminds us that the focus should be on winning the hearts and minds of the talent we need to be sustainable for the long term and whole-of-life of our mines since the demand for Queensland’s high-quality coals must meet the demand for many decades to come.

Ensuring a strong long-term future in a decarbonised world for the resources industry means winning the hearts and minds of generations from a very early age, starting right now. Putting effort into the ‘social’ of ESG is the key to longevity.

It’s not just about people as employees – people who are contractors and suppliers are equally important to bring innovation and supply solutions to the table.

Luiz Sapucaia, General Manager Supply, Stanmore described how that ‘table’ is different now – real transparency, open and frank discussion, more shared risk and give and take solutions are some ways to solve intractable logistics and supply issues. Long gone are the days when producers tendered contracts and waited to see what came in. Today, procurement managers must gain insight into their supplier’s supplier, and their supplier all the way to the raw materials, and right up to delivery to site.

Producers are building up their inventories, rather than running lean, and looking for gaps and local vendors. And they’re more than willing to discuss collaborative ways to achieve local, and even ‘super local’ supply.

With typical Australian ingenuity, the industry is growing, despite every attempt to hobble growth with regulation, royalties and more. For example, safeguard legislation that kicks in from 1 July imposes on every supplier and producer. And what producers need is data. And more data. As Paul Davis, Regional Procurement Manager, Anglo American emphasised, suppliers’ Scope 1 and 2 data means valuable Scope 3 data for producers, and every little bit helps. The speakers appealed to all suppliers to understand their energy use, capture every gain in efficiency and decarbonisation, and pass it on to help them meet huge stretch targets imposed by the new legislation.

The overall takeaway is this – we’re in this together. Each win for a link in the supply chain is a win for the whole supply chain. And despite global unrest, and negative rhetoric about mining in general and coal in particular, there’s much to celebrate – remember to celebrate publicly.

We can frame our supply challenges as opportunities to do things differently, and better. There’s no shortage of innovation, and producers are ready to work with the best solutions.

Jodie Currie

Director, Bowen Basin Mining Club

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