Managing Technology Development in a Changing Business Environment

La Nauze, R. D. ; Shodde, R. C.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2004
Major societal and industry changes over the last four decades have influenced the management of technology in the minerals industry. From the authors' experiences in both private and public sector R&D, the paper analyzes the range of strategic and structural changes and provides examples of some key technology delivery responses. For those charged with managing technology, the two key challenges facing them over the next decade are (I) moving technology development from a cost focus to a value focus (that is, from "how much long-term research can we afford?" to "identifying and capturing the value created from R&D”) and (2) the recruitment and retention of key talent. THE NEED TO ADAPT "Change is slow and gradual. It requires hard work, a bit of luck, a fair amount of self- sacrifice, and a lot of patience (Greene 1998)." Since the 1960s the world has changed and the minerals industry has had to adapt to the changing circumstances. In the '60s, minerals were there to be discovered and fortunes to be made; in Australia, the World War I1 embargo on exporting iron ore was lifted and the Western Australian iron-ore boom commenced, to be followed by the exploitation of the Darling Range bauxites; copper, lead, zinc and nickel were discovered and mines developed. The Australian dollar was worth US$1.11 whereas today it is around US$0.65. The oil crisis of 1976 sharpened focus on the sensitivity of the minerals industry on energy costs. By the late 1970s The Club of Rome was predicting the imminent demise of certain key metals-a prediction that has not been fulfilled-though the signs of the shift
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