Big data has a big role to play in the exploration phase. Searching for undiscovered deposits requires acquisition and interpretation of massive multi-facetted sets of data, which provide critical insights into the mineral potential of the targeted area.
The stakes are high: in order to find a needle in a haystack, miners must rely on largely visual interpretation of these processed and complex digital data sets to decide if they will allocate scarce capital.
These interpretations are done by human eye and involve assessment of digital data which has been transformed onto maps showing rendered colour and grey toned imagery.
Developments in artificial intelligence will soon summarise innumerable layers of data in mere seconds with a very low margin of error – augmenting human talent and intuition in ways previously unimaginable.
We are seeing this already in companies like Woodside which has created and trained a cognitive assistant (Avatar) called Willow which is able to engage with different Woodside specialists to assist with the real time problem solving. Willow is able to access millions of current data files to support the user’s verbal and written requests.
The marketing of resources is another area ripe for big data applications. Soon firms will be able to better focus marketing efforts and more-efficiently identify the most appropriate customers based on data-driven analyses of the e commodities they are selling.
So what can natural resources companies do to take these crucial next steps in the area of big data application?
The first thing to do is to ensure a dedicated data strategy and chief data engineers are part and parcel of business development plans at the most senior level. Miners must foster company-wide awareness of data rather than simply pay lip service to trends.
Working with data-driven external partners who can help realise gains is also crucial, as excessive insularity can trap a company in a state of arrested development.
Moving forward, leading natural resources companies need to work with partners which provide bespoke – rather than generic – dashboards around capital risk and liquidity management, ensuring big data will become part of their DNA across entire business cycles from exploration to marketing.
Aaron Ross, Global Head of Resources, Energy & Infrastructure at ANZ and Jonathan Bloch is Head of Strategic Banking, Resources Energy & Infrastructure at ANZ.
Additional contributors to this article included Richard Schroder, Head of Analytics & Platform – Client Insights, Institutional and International Banking at ANZ; and Frank Van Rooyen, Head of Natural Resources, Australia at ANZ