JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Global professional services company Accenture is investing in a new Applied Intelligence Studio for Mining, in Johannesburg, which will combine the latest in data science and artificial intelligence technologies with deep industry knowledge for the development of new intelligent digital solutions that can help mining companies solve some of their most significant challenges.
The studio, which forms part of Accenture’s Applied Intelligence global practice, is market-specific, with solutions focussing specifically on the mining industry, Accenture Applied Intelligence and Data Science lead for Africa Dr Caroline Belrose explains to Engineering News Online.
“The studio we are developing is actually part of the global organisation and will be a highly-specialised studio focussing on analytics for mining,” she informs, highlighting that the studio will work with a global client portfolio as well as South African customers. South African clients will particularly benefit from having the studio based locally, which, in turn, strengthens Accenture’s local digital solutions within the country, Belrose adds.
The process of transferring and recruiting talent into the studio began this month, and Belrose expects to have a core team established by the end of March.
“As we see more demand, we will expand the studio and grow it with more capability over time,” she comments.
Meanwhile, volatile commodity prices, rising production costs and changing global demand for commodities require mining companies to rethink their strategies and business models to remain competitive.
As a result, mining companies are increasingly looking to apply advanced analytics and intelligent digital solutions to reimagine processes, unlock trapped value and drive operational excellence in their businesses today, positioning themselves for growth tomorrow.
The Applied Intelligence Studio for Mining will have the capability to work on a variety of problems, ranging from demand for global commodities, supply chain and production efficiencies, through to highly specialized geological problems.
“In the production space, there’s a lot of work being done to digitise and optimise operations and to predict and prevent failures and hazards to ensure things like continuous production and safe working environments.
“We’re getting into some interesting areas around understanding the geological problems in mining, being able to look out for certain geological hazards and things like assessing site value when a company wants to potentially lease a site for mining,” she elaborates.
Many of these problems require deep analysis of large quantities of fragmented and sometimes non-digital data.
Belrose and her team will have the capabilities and technologies to compile and analyze the information appropriately to assist companies in making the necessary decisions.
“[Mining companies] have to find ways of being more effective to stay competitive in the global market. So, this capability combined with the rest of [Accenture’s] digital capabilities, is definitely a space that mining companies are investing in to help them be more productive and still provide a safer environment for their workers.”
When asked about the rationale behind establishing the studio in South Africa, Belrose notes that, with the availability of people with engineering backgrounds and extensive mining industry knowledge, especially around Johannesburg, it made “a lot of sense” to establish the global group in the region.
“We are currently recruiting data scientists with engineering and mining experience to rapidly scale the studio’s capabilities,” she says, adding that they will join Accenture Applied Intelligence’s global team and work collaboratively with global digital and local Accenture teams to deliver solutions to address the mining sector's unique challenges as well as priorities.
The studio will also complement Accenture’s network of mining experts – concentrated in major mining regions, including Australia, Brazil and the US.