Mining companies need to be resilient in the face of the ever-deepening economic woes that have been brought about by the depressed economy and worsened by Covid-19 lockdowns that threatened to strangle the world markets.

Mining operations need to become resilient in times of peril. Image credit: Leon Louw

Mining operations need to become resilient in times of peril. Image credit: Leon Louw

Unplanned, unexpected catastrophic events such as the Covid-19 pandemic are referred to in business as Black Swan events and are characterised by their extreme rarity with major impacts on markets and investments and need to be managed quite differently to other types of economic hiccups.

According to Nico Pienaar of surface mining industry association, ASPASA, the Covid-19 pandemic is a typical example of a Black Swan that has brought many mining companies, suppliers, and service providers to the brink of bankruptcy and unfortunately others have gone beyond the point of no return.

During a specially hosted ASPASA webinar that was held to discuss ways of dealing with Black Swans, the guest speaker, Dr Letitia van der Merwe of Inavit IQ Learning Practice, warned that it has changed the business realm forever and that companies need to adapt to our new-normal or face possible extinction.

She said that companies that were negatively affected by the Black Swan should immediately focus on rebuilding their businesses and relooking at their company’s practices. “Everybody is in the same boat and although some boats are bigger and others smaller, they all must stay afloat. We just need to become captains of positivity, take charge of our companies and where necessary guide our industries back to profitability.

“We advise that management of our mines implement a thinking framework to find mindful solutions to current problems. In times like these we are of the view that three areas require really mindful attention. Firstly, the business philosophy needs to be examined as the pandemic has afforded us a real opportunity to rethink the fundamental purpose of our enterprise, and as leadership we therefore need to explore and be clear on our own worldviews, values, and beliefs.

“Secondly, we should revisit our principles and ensure they are clear and properly aligned with the business philosophy and our decision-making as these inform the parameters we use to make decisions and what we will and will not do.

“Thirdly, we need to align our practices as this means we will have coherence on how we execute through decision, implementation, monitoring and adjustment. Then we can always stop, continue, improve, or accelerate and start initiatives and actions,” says Dr Van der Merwe.

Here are 10 tips to rebuilding your businesses:

  1. Develop an agile operating model
  2. Build the operations’ resilience
  3. Accelerate end-to-end value-chain digitisation
  4. Rapidly increasing capital and operating expense transparency
  5. Rapidly recover revenue
  6. Adopt a start-up operation mindset, no matter how established the company is
  7. Identify and prioritise revenue opportunities
  8. Act with urgency
  9. Accelerate digital adoption to enable reimagination
  10. Refocus digital efforts to reflect changing customer expectations from online commerce to a contact-free economy.