This year Astana has hosted one of the key global events in the mining and metallurgical industry – the 25th World Mining Congress (WMC). Such a large-scale event has been held for the first time not only in Kazakhstan but also in the CIS. This has underlined the authority of Kazakhstan in the global mining and metallurgical industry.
The “Strategy2050.kz” Information Agency’s journalist had an opportunity to interview James Matcher, EY (Ernst & Young) Partner heading the Intelligent Automation practice in EY Africa and EY’s Global Robotic Process Automation Leader for the mining and metals sector.
The theme of digitalization is one of the most important for Kazakhstan nowadays. It was interesting to find out how to introduce digitalization into the mining industry.
- The World Mining Congress has been held since 1958. Of course, nowadays the level of the events held is getting higher. Many interesting and important challenges are discussed at such platforms. Can you comment the scale of this year’s event?
- I think the scale of the event is indeed global. Given that today neither a particular sector nor innovations are geographically centered, it is important to raise and resolve topical issues at the global level, and such events are very helpful in that regard. They bring together experts from various parts of the world and serve as an efficient platform for discussing the challenges being faced in the sector and the innovative solutions that can be developed to address them.
- Experts and scientists from different countries have met on the Congress in Astana. What are they ready to present to Kazakhstan and the whole world? What will your company present to the mining community?
- It’s a very good point. The collaboration and sharing of ideas between specialists in all possible areas within the mining sector here at Astana has lifted the profile of the Kazakhstan mining sector immensely and created the connect between global specialists and role players in the Kazakhstan mining sector, which will lead to greater collaboration and knowledge sharing long after the Congress has concluded. EY is very excited about the opportunity to play such a big role at the Congress as the need to solve the business challenges in conjunction with pure mining engineering challenges is key to long term success, and this is the domain that EY is very successful in. Leveraging off our global expertise in the sector and digital transformations, EY is able to support local operations to digitize their processes more effectively, develop appropriate strategies and execute them optimally thereby enabling material value realization.
- How does your country develop science, especially digitalization science, to benefit progress in the mining sector?
- I think Kazakhstan is pretty similar to South Africa and Africa in many respects. Both countries have a long history in the sector but have struggled for many years with shortages in specialist skilled resources and top end engineering skills when compared to other first world countries. In South Africa we see not only universities and national education systems developing the skills base, but mining companies and private institutions themselves investing heavily in skills generation and human capital development. Kazakhstan too needs to further uplift technical skills of its workforce to the point that Kazakhstan mining engineering becomes the “digital export”. I think we’ll see Kazakhstan will be able to address some of these challenges very quickly through the use of this type of events, which highlight the importance of the digitization, importance of relevant mining experience, proper education and access to insights etc.
- How is digitalization improving in your country? What can you recommend to Kazakhstan in this sphere?
- One of the key things that we have to deal with is automation or digitalization in the “real time”. The ability to bring change to the environment like Kazakhstan or South Africa, where employment creation is a nationwide agenda, is not a straightforward solution. It is important to show how digitization will enable the workforce, and not to replace it and in doing so drive greater labor and capital productivity, which means the sector can stay competitive on the global arena. Being leaders in the global market brings significant amount of investment and employment and becomes an economic anchor for the whole country’s economy, the value of which is far reaching. Both Kazakhstan and South Africa must come to terms with this concept and embrace and leverage the use of newest technologies. Here, in Kazakhstan, you have all the necessary resources, a hard working population, support and alignment with the Government, and this is what makes Kazakhstan such an attractive opportunity for foreign investment. All that is needed is to ensure delivery of high quality products to the global market and then you can be a true global leader in this sector.
- Thank you for the interview.
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