Leaders in the mining industry, especially women, are passionate about transforming the industry’s face by implementing sustainable, innovative solutions. Recent upgrades in the mining industry through technological advancements have proved to be significant in sustainable mining. By providing environment-respecting solutions, these leaders are delivering more impactful operational efficiencies. These efficiencies have allowed the organizations to utilize the process enabling forecast operational improvement opportunities in more complex and high-impact mining. Leaders are building the next generation of digital operation and personalized learning to incorporate with the mining industry. One such leader is Loreto Acevedo, who has dedicated her work life to implement innovative projects advising large organizations in the mining sector.
Loreto has transformed the work process in the mining industry by enabling better process and role engagement. She is a proactive person with the ability to adapt and face challenges head-on. She has always met the goal that she sets for herself, which led her to win the “Outstanding Woman in Mining” award in 2013, given by the Ministry of Mining of the Government of Chile. Additionally, Loreto was also was selected as the 100 inspirational women in mining in 2020.
Moreover, Loreto is a lifelong athlete who loves to travel. She considers that both activities have helped her to be more persevering and to have a team vision.
Let’s shed more light on her journey as a leader.
Loreto is the Co-founder of Indimin, a Chilean technology startup with more than five years in the market that developed Smart Mining Coach, the first digital assistant enabled with artificial intelligence that allows people to reach the maximum potential on the site. She also serves as the Director of Ecosystem and Innovation. In this role, she implies linking with the global entrepreneurship ecosystem to achieve innovative value propositions that allow her to continue growing and positioning herself as a leader in artificial intelligence.
A Take on Challenges in the Mining Industry
Loreto mentions that one of the challenges of the mining industry is the connection with the environment and communities. For example, focus on industry waste; thousands of tons of Co2 emissions to the planet is risking the future of society. The incorporation of renewable energies as the operating base of the mining industry is fundamental. As for the communities, if it does not achieve the shared value vision, it will be impossible for them to support the industry’s growth.
Gender diversity is one of the pending points as well. However, the industry has grown gradually today. It is still stagnant between 10-15% depending on the country, which urgently calls for the need to make deeper changes in integrating women into the mining industry, likewise gender focus career development.
Playing a Significant Role During the Pandemic
Talking about the impact of the pandemic, Loreto states that COVID-19 has been the accelerator of the digitization of the mining industry, and Indimin has played a very important role for its clients. It has been able to support the capture of value using data in the field for decision-making. Also, it has supported the management of personnel remotely, an important mission in these times.
Collaboration is the Key
Loreto believes that it is essential now more than ever to connect with the collaborators at Indimin. Relationships have become almost 100% digital, making it difficult to connect, transcending work, and building solid work teams. “In this sense, the positive organizational culture promotes the vision that, despite the challenges that we have, we are capable of facing it together, even though we do not know the answers, incorporating diverse visions,” she says.
Loreto cares for her team. She opines that being a startup, the vision and commitment of the team members acquire vital importance to growth more than market vision to reach or satisfy the clients. Internally, she and her team look for the sustainability of the company and having an enjoyable job. Without a doubt, the company could not face this crisis without its members and staff.
An Efficient and Safer Mining Industry
Indimin envisions and incorporates all industry stakeholders where the finding of shared value is the main goal. The production of metals and non-metals can no longer be regulated by their economic value but must incorporate the contribution of each of the participants in the value chain. If the workers involved could benefit from the increase, this effort would positively impact the community. It could align interests and mobilize the industry to achieve triple impact.
At Indimin, it is called digital shared value. Using data and converting in intelligence facilitates transparency and truthfulness to make each of the contributions visible.
Leveraging Technology to Change the Way of Mining
According to Loreto, today, the mining industry has been challenged to solve problems never faced before, like shortage of water to operate, use of renewable energy to reduce environmental impact, etc. New technological developments allow Indimin to meet some of these challenges, such as the use of data to make transparent efficiency metrics, contributions of each of the workers to achieve their goals, for example. It is an amazing time to rethink the process and consider technologies as allies, as long as they solve a problem for someone.
Additionally, the same disrupted technologies would help stop mining as it is known today: moving an unnecessary amount of material. Considering that the laws are getting lower and lower, this proportion is only increasing. To transport that material, it emits a lot of Co2 into the atmosphere, then it has to be crushed, a process in which much energy is used. That is why Loreto tends to think that using new technologies should radically change the way of mining.
Loreto’s mission through Indimin is to connect people, artificial intelligence, and productivity for sustainable mining. It follows its mission through Smart Mining Coach, which constantly seeks to generate shared value digitally using data as a transparent vehicle to make all external and internal stakeholders, such as workers and members of the communities. This aligns interests and generate greater value for all.
Indimin has done it with proven results by delivering personalized feedback. Working to reduce Co2 emissions has digitally persuaded the operators to achieve it. It reduces costs and allows savings between the mining company and the collaborator, using a reliable tool based on big data. Imagine if the worker could donate part of this savings to a community project. That is the vision of ‘shared digital value’, a new business model for the industry.
Into the Horizons
Loreto thinks that people are the engine of change, and empowering them with technology can enhance their full potential. The dream for Indimin in the near future is to make its presence known in every mine, turning every decision into action and from action to capture the impact by implicating Smart Mining Coach. Smart Mining Coach is an intelligent digital assistant that promotes shared value in the mining industry. It is a “game-changer” from being a 100% cost-focused industry to one that is just as important and visible to the contribution of its workers and the community.
In the opinion of Loreto, mining is an ancient industry, and we must take advantage of tacit knowledge of the field and amplify it with exponential technologies.
Words of Wisdom
In her advice to emerging women entrepreneurs, Loreto says, “I would tell them creating a startup in this industry is a long and arduous path, but no less fascinating. Customer acquisition rates in the industry can range from 6 to 12 months. However, this has been shortened in time where mining companies are trying to promote open innovation programs where they can link with startups more expeditiously.”
“The pandemic has also brought us the opportunity to reduce this time, given the possibility to sell online, reducing the cost of customer acquisition and increasing the chance of internationalization, as in our case in 2020 we arrive in Australia,” she adds.
Unfortunately, there are few women entrepreneurs in technology in the mining field. However, Loreto thinks that the more women are linked to the industry, the greater is the probability of founding an associated startup. One of the most significant sources of entrepreneurship is based on past work experiences. If promoted well, the inclusion of women, not only in mining companies but also in suppliers, could have better results in the coming years.
She concludes, “Universities are an interesting source of entrepreneurship incubation, so if we promote entrepreneurship as a work path alternative in STEM careers, which could be associated with the industry, we would also have an impact on the rate of women entrepreneurs.”