In recent years, innovation in the mining industry has shifted from being a non-essential business activity to a necessity. Key challenges in the last decade (such as declining ore grades and increased mining costs) have forced companies to focus on innovative business initiatives in order to gain incremental cost and productivity improvements. These key challenges have placed the mining industry in a difficult position they are substantial and in many cases, complex in nature.
In order to ultimately solve (and not merely mitigate) these challenges, fundamental innovation step-changes are required. The success of the potential implementation of these changes is to rethink the "starting point" of innovation, namely the research and development (R&D) strategy and process. Contrary to popular belief, innovation does not occur spontaneously. It is, in the majority of cases, a product of meticulous planning, thinking, testing, iteration, and implementation.
This study investigated the Stage-Gate model as a potential R&D implementation process in solving the aforementioned challenges, and ultimately modernising the South African mining industry. The study focused on firstly deriving a skeleton Stage-Gate model, in order to conduct further research into the associated key gate criteria, stage activities and critical success factors. The research findings were used to develop a proposed Stage-Gate model, which was then assessed at the hand of a South African mining case study (Missing Person Locator System).
From the research findings, proposed Stage-Gate model and the case study evaluation, it was generally concluded that the Stage-Gate model has the potential to assist in the successful modernisation of the South African mining industry (SAMI), through focused R&D efforts into the industry's key problem areas and challenges. The study further recommended that in general, the outcomes of the study should be used to conduct R&D in the SAMI, in order to more effectively and efficiently conduct R&D in the SAMI (and ultimately modernise the SAMI).
Lastly it was suggested that the outcomes of the study (and in particular, the proposed Stage-Gate model) be tested through conducting an actual R&D effort into a new value proposition. The actual application of the proposed model will reveal the degree of value that the Stage-Gate approach could deliver, and could serve as proof that the Stage-Gate model and approach can work as a tool in modernising the SAMI.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2016.