Technology Article 2: The CTO’s Relevance to the Mining Industry

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Written by Sam Houston



I am committed to changing the mining and resources industries through major projects by a longer-term focus on technology, sustainability and the investment in people. I believe that it is my responsibility to ensure that the minerals resources that I am custodian of, as a leader and executive in the mining industry, is driving the maximum value for the planet that we all share, including for the traditional owners of the land, the wider community, the company employees and the shareholders.  As part of my Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Programme studies at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania I have been able to explore these topics even further, with a focus on the technology side. I thought I would share some ideas with you.


In the fast-paced mining industry, technology has become a driving force, revolutionising operations and shaping the future. At the forefront of this digital transformation stands the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), a key player responsible for harnessing technology’s potential to drive change and growth. In this blog, I will explore the critical role of the CTO within a mining company, emphasising the significance of technology as a strategic asset for long-term success. I will also delve into the mining industry’s requirement for a social license to operate, highlighting the CTO’s role in fostering sustainability, maintaining community trust, and managing digital and technology risk.


Leveraging Technology for Success


In mining companies, technology and data hold immense value as catalysts for innovation and operational efficiency. As the CTO, the responsibility lies in developing and executing the technology strategy that aligns with the company’s vision and goals. This involves harnessing cutting-edge technologies like automation, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and digital platforms to drive decarbonisation efforts, enhance safety measures, promote sustainable growth, and boost productivity across various operations. The CTO’s expertise in leveraging technology enables the company to stay competitive and thrive in a rapidly evolving industry.


Collaboration and Decision-Making


Within the mining industry, technology decisions are complex and require collaboration across departments and business units. The CTO works closely with cross-functional teams, including centres of excellence and often Chief Science Officers, to ensure technology initiatives are seamlessly integrated throughout the organisation. While operational technology decisions may be made by individual business units, the CTO’s focus remains on fostering a cohesive and innovative technological ecosystem that aligns with the company’s long-term value creation. By driving collaboration and leveraging expertise across the organisation, the CTO facilitates effective decision-making and implementation of technology solutions.


Synergy with Major Projects and Social License to Operate


Collaboration between the CTO and Executive Leaders of Major Projects is vital in driving technology advancements. By aligning technology initiatives with major projects, they can unlock new opportunities and drive transformative changes across the organisation in the medium- to longer-term. Often a CTO and VP Major Projects role can be combined into a Chief Projects Officer role to galvanise this focus. The CTO’s role extends beyond technology, expanding on their contribution to met the mining industry’s requirement for a social license to operate. Building and maintaining positive relationships with local communities and stakeholders is crucial for sustaining operations. By integrating technology solutions that prioritise community well-being and environmental stewardship, the CTO contributes to maintaining the social license to operate. This involves addressing environmental concerns, promoting ethical practices, and engaging in responsible mining practices.


Managing Digital and Technology Risk


In the mining industry, managing digital and technology risk is of utmost importance. The CTO plays a pivotal role in navigating threats and embracing opportunities in the digital landscape. Rapid advancements in technology bring both potential threats and exciting possibilities. Cybersecurity breaches, data privacy concerns, system failures, and technological obsolescence are significant risks that need to be mitigated. The CTO implements robust cybersecurity measures, establishes data protection protocols, and ensures reliable technology infrastructure. By collaborating with experts and fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness, the CTO safeguards the organisation against threats. Furthermore, the CTO identifies emerging technologies, evaluates their potential impact, and encourages the adoption of transformative solutions. By effectively managing digital and technology risks, the CTO enables the company to embrace opportunities, that can lead to increased operational efficiencies, improved safety measures, and enhanced data-driven decision-making.




The CTO’s role within a mining company is instrumental in harnessing technology to drive change, growth, and sustainability. By leveraging technology as a strategic asset, the CTO enables the company to stay competitive, enhance operational efficiency, and address environmental and social responsibilities. Collaboration with major projects and the integration of technology solutions that prioritise community well-being and environmental stewardship contribute to maintaining the social license to operate well into the future. Additionally, effective management of digital and technology risks ensures the company’s resilience and ability to embrace innovation.


Next time I’ll talk about how to navigate the complexity of developing and delivering technology and digital strategies within large, multi-national mining companies.


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