(As originally posted on LinkedIn, July 25 2017)

To Canada 150 and beyond: the role of mining and metals

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By Jim MacLean, EY Canada’s Mining & Metals Leader

Ahead of #Canada150, we’re reflecting on what we’ve accomplished and what awaits us in the next century and a half. We’re asking ourselves the kinds of #BetterQuestions that challenge, inspire and unlock new solutions.

Q: How is your sector embracing innovation and what does it mean for Canada?

A: For a period of time, the mining and metals sector had, in some ways, fallen behind on embracing digital innovation – but that’s starting to change. These days, we’re seeing companies digitize everything from simulations modeling, to mine planning and optimization tools, to monitoring and control systems, all of which help bring down costs and increase productivity.

While the industry has a track record of successful implementations, we sometimes see hesitations around taking the digital leap. But industry is identifying those pitfalls and navigating the path forward.

Q: What role does entrepreneurship play in your sector?

A: Like other industries, the mining and metals sector was built by entrepreneurs. If we think back to the gold rush, the people who had the courage to come north in hopes of finding gold were willing to take massive risks. Many of the large multinationals operating today started as small businesses.

Entrepreneurship is one of the places where we could see innovations that help to address some of the common problems facing our sector. This represents a massive opportunity to any enterprising person who wants to make an impact.

Q: How can diversity move your sector forward?

A: When you start to diversify an industry – or even individual companies or Boards – you find that different ideas and perspectives start to enter the conversation. Many times, it’s those different ideas and perspectives that help to address some of the biggest challenges.

It’s critical to the future success of any industry that diversity is not only embraced, but a deliberate direction. As a sector we are at a fork in the road and we need to solicit different backgrounds and experiences in order to continue to move forward and be successful.

Innovation, entrepreneurship and diversity are vital to Canada’s future success. Those who seize the opportunities that arise from disruption in every sector are poised to lead in the years ahead. What does the future hold for your business and how do you plan to get there?

The views reflected in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its member firms.