Insight | Research Programme 2020: The Rise of IoT in Mining


Research Programme 2020: The Rise of IoT in Mining


The mining sector has historically been slow to adopt radical ideas and new technologies. However, as the pressure on margins continues and the need to extract raw materials more efficiently and more cheaply than competitors, it is clear that new approaches are required to transform operations.

This report focuses on the mining sector and explores levels of IoT maturity amongst organisations operating across the globe. In this study, six factors have been identified to understand the overall maturity of the mining sector in its IoT deployment.

Despite capital control and the lean years that have preceded the current time, it is clear from the findings that the mining sector has been cautiously investing in the development and deployment of IoT-based projects, with early benefits and return on investment being realised in some quarters.

A bright future

The outlook for industry-wide adoption is bright. Mining organisations are reporting that their IoT deployments are already making an impact on their bottom line and are overwhelmingly positive about the value of IoT to their operations and the benefits it will deliver in the future.

Challenges ahead

However, if the sector is to get the most out of its growing investment in IoT, there are significant challenges to overcome: connectivity is often unreliable, cybersecurity approaches are patchy, there are too few employees with digital skills and data is not being collected and managed in a way that would best empower organisations.


of mining organisations have already fully deployed at least one IoT-based project, with 95% currently trialling an IoT initiative. This has been borne out of the need to drive increasing efficiencies; to do more with less, but often these projects have been relatively simple, and not all of the projects are getting through the trial phase.

Reliable connectivity is the bedrock of successful deployment

Our results indicate a clear link between those who have managed to fully deploy an IoT project and the level of reliable connectivity they can access. Of the 130 respondents who had fully deployed an IoT project, just 22% struggled to access reliable connectivity across their mine sites. Satellite plays a key role here as an IoT enabler, with 85% of respondents who have fully deployed an IoT project using satellite connectivity.

Closing the skills gap

A shortfall of skills across different levels of seniority continues to rest at the core of most of the major issues acting as obstacles to growth and development in the mining industry today. Should mining companies start to embrace smarter and more flexible ways of working, such as enabling IT teams to work off-site, they will likely be able to attract the skills they need to accelerate digital transformation in their organisations.

Getting the most out of data

If data is not collected, shared, managed and analysed correctly, projects will not be deemed successful. The mining sector’s aggregation, analysis and actioning of data is currently suboptimal, with organisations citing a lack of IT infrastructure as a key barrier to success. This will have to be remedied if organisations are to ensure they are making the most of their investment in IoT projects.

Patchy cybersecurity

There is still a long way to go to ensure mining operations are secure and robustly protected. Only 34% of respondents stated that they are conducting regular patching and updating of their networks. As mining companies begin to connect more of their operational infrastructure to networks and the internet through IoT-related technologies, they will need to invest more into their cybersecurity practices.

Heavy investment predicted

The level of investment set to be put into IoT development in the coming years supports the idea that its usage will be accelerated. However, our results indicate that there are some clear leaders in the pack, with investment in and progress with IoT amongst others remaining evidently lagging. Companies with higher turnovers are investing more proportionally, using their available cash-flow to invest in the skills and connectivity needed make their IoT projects a success.

IoT Maturity Tool

Find out where your business’s IoT readiness ranks against other mining organisations.