Few people know international mining like Alan Bye. Currently Managing Director of Imvelo Pty, and Professor of Digital Value Chains at Curtin University, Bye has more than 20 years’ experience in operational and strategic roles in the mining industry. This encompasses work in 15 countries covering nine commodities.
As a recognised leader in the sector, Bye combines practical experience with a history of academia. He has a PhD in mining engineering and is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology Science and Engineering (FTSE). He also acts as a non-executive Director at Swick and Scitech and member of the CSIRO’s Minerals Resources Flagship Advisory Council.
Bye, together with colleague Dr Sharna Glover, created Imvelo out of frustration at the state of the mining industry. In particular, that a multi-factor decline over the last 30 years has had a continued impact. For Bye, technology has played a key role in his outlook for the business. “To assist clients reach the next frontier, system-wide solutions are required,” he explains. “The industry does not have much experience in this so Imvelo is bringing that knowledge in a partnership approach that can deliver the system change we are talking about.
“Intelligent decision making up and down the supply chain using AI can and should be driven by reliable sensor data and interoperable equipment,” he continues.
“But contrary to what you might imagine the mining industry’s investments in R&D at around 0.2% of revenues has been small in comparison to comparable global cross industry enterprises where 1-10% is not uncommon.”
According to Bye, the technology exists to develop the sector, it just needs to be put together. This, he explains, means working closely with companies which can prove difficult with the larger mining organisations. “Big mining companies are not as good at partnering with these transformational innovators that are popping up. We pull together the best technology in the world - our strong point is strategic partnering to capture this thinning, which is missing in the industry today.”
This tech-driven approach is central to Bye’s leadership. He is, for example, a firm believer in the language of innovation, which he views as central to driving mining’s new ecosystem. “There are talented people working in these startups; they work seamlessly with university academics. We are in a position to place startups and academic partners at the service of the real-world industry needs of mining companies of all sizes.”