BY NICOLE ROOCKE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, MINERALS RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
The Western Australian Government is partnering with the gold sector and research community to ensure benefit to the state.
Western Australia has a long relationship with gold, with mining of this precious metal dating back to 1885. Since then, the gold sector has been through a number of major downturns and growth periods, reflecting what has been happening globally over time.
Today, the Western Australian gold sector produces 211 tonnes of gold annually, is valued at $12 billion and employs more than 31,000 people. It is a significant part of the Western Australian economy. But it is not without its challenges.
Despite the apparent prospectivity for gold in the state, production is forecast to fall by half over the next 40 years in the absence of sufficient new discoveries to replace the impending closure of older gold mines. While discoveries are still occurring, no tier-one deposits have been found in Australia in the past decade. The most recent tier-one discovery in gold in Western Australia was Tropicana in 2005.
The mining industry is facing a significant challenge to make the most of a digital transformation when the maturity of people, technology, data, and management systems isn’t enough to open the doors of the digital world for this old industry. To tackle this challenge, not only should mining companies work hard to pass this bottleneck, but universities need to change their curriculum to include better learning and research programs for future mine engineers.