Change management skills will be in high demand in the coming decade, according to Newmont Asia Pacific’s general manager of operations services at Lara Bruhns. Speaking ahead of her presentation at next week’s ‘Austmine 2017: Mining’s Innovation Imperative’ conference in Perth, she said turning invention into innovation was a specialised skill in itself.

“We need people with pragmatism in process development as well as change management skills to ensure innovations gain acceptance,” Lara Bruhns said.

“There are lots of innovations that can be applied to our processes, but it’s the people who can find a way to successfully get innovations into the company’s systems - both human and technological - that are going to have a place in the mines of the future.”

She also said Newmont was dedicated to leveraging innovation in ways that enhanced its performance in safety, profitability and responsibility. “Newmont is interested in innovating to create value for the company, not necessarily for the sake of innovation.”

Lara Bruhns calls it a ‘targeted’ approach to mining innovation. “It comes from an acknowledgement that Newmont can’t look at everything that’s being invented all the time.

“We look at bottlenecks in our processes and lever points to target where innovations can be implemented that will have the most leverage for our business.

“It’s an acknowledgement that having focus matters, and accepting that you will often have more opportunities for innovation than resources to implement them, and you therefore need to prioritise them.”

Lara Bruhns’ presentation, ‘Using Targeted Innovations to Achieve Operational Excellence’, is part of Austmine 2017’s The Productive Mine: Striving for Operational Excellence session.

Other mining executives speaking in the session will be Peter Bradford, Independence Group managing director and CEO Peter Bradford with ‘Shaping World Class Mines through a Focus on Productivity’, and Maptek managing director Peter Johnson with ‘The Well Connected Mine’.

Lara Bruhns said she was impressed by advances in 3D visualisation technology that made it easier to explain complex data, allowing Newmont’s investment arm to make better-informed decisions.

“We can take highly detailed information about complex geological structures and visualise them relatively easily, making it much easier to understand for people who don’t necessarily hold advanced degrees in geological sciences,” she said.

The ‘Austmine 2017: Mining’s Innovation Imperative’ conference will be held from May 22-24 at the Perth Conference and Exhibition Centre.

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