Why Is Mining Innovation So Rare?

By: Chad Williams, Chairman & Founder.

Apparently, mining is the second worse industry (after agriculture) to adopt new technologies. No one in mining will be surprised by this. But why? 

Mining is a difficult business. Even the best producers must watch their bottom line closely because of rising input costs, massive capital costs, and finite reserve lives. Very rarely is mining lucrative so R&D spending and technology risk-taking just don’t make sense. 

The other 90% or so of the public mining companies don’t generate any revenue so any thoughts of innovation are easily dismissed. Raising money through share issuance to fund innovation is unheard of in mining.

And the mining process itself doesn’t really lend itself to innovation since geology is highly variable and thus mineral extraction is more of an art than science.

Students with a love for innovation and technology rarely choose mining as a career path. Working for Tesla, Google, etc. sounds much more exciting and makes for better party talk. We have all heard this before: “You work in mining? You mean bitcoin mining?”

Mining is not fashionable. And why live in a remote mining area when Silicon Valley beckons?


We need to encourage smart people from outside of mining to get interested in our industry. They could bring new ideas, more energy, fresh connections.

Financial rewards for innovation could work. Recognizing innovation through awards might also work.

Continued support from the strongest existing mining companies needs to continue. Investors should start to recognize and reward mining companies that innovate. Tesla gets crazy valuation multiples because of the company’s continued innovation. Where is the Elon Musk of mining?



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