How can miners work with start-ups to harness their innovative tech solutions?

Tech start-ups and scale-ups can provide incredible opportunities for mining companies looking to improve mine-site operations, increase profit, and reduce there bottom line. Here are 3 tips to help mining companies work with these agile and innovative companies.

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From payment and procurement terms, to IP ownership issues, to cultural mismatch, there are a number of barriers that tech start-ups and scale-ups face when trying to work with large scale mining companies.

Lex McArthur, CEO, Jolimont Global Systems

“The mining industry is difficult to get your foot in the door, but once you’re in they’re fantastic to work with,” says Lex McArthur, CEO of Jolimont Global (pictured right), speaking to Nick Stamatiou, Managing Partner of Innovative Foundations in a recent Mining Beacon webinar.

Jolimont Global is an investor in METS companies, and the private equity company has seen more than 850 deals in the METS sector. With this experience, Lex has a unique insight into some of the challenges that mining companies face when trying to work with start-ups to implement their tech innovations.

Here are his 3 key tips for mining companies looking to work with start-ups.

1. Leave procurement out of it

It goes against most protocols for on-boarding  a new supplier into a mid- to large-size organisation, but Lex says that it’s important to keep smaller start-up and scale-up companies away from traditional procurement departments.

“Procurement teams play an important role, but it takes a lot of time to go through all that rigmarole. There should be a different class for start-ups to enable them to bypass a lot of that traditional process, so that they can get out there and feature what their product actually does.”

 2. Set KPIs against your innovation budget

It’s not uncommon for dedicated innovation budgets to be set aside for 10 months of the year, and spent all at once at the end of the year on less significant projects. Mining companies should think strategically about the type of innovation they want to implement in their business, and plan accordingly.

“Set KPIs to use your innovation budgets within the first six months of the year, otherwise those funds will get left until the very end of the year and spent on last-minute pet projects.”

 3. Treat start-ups as interns

The best way to get the most out of a relationship with a start-up is to welcome them into the business and consider them as a member of the team. However, they also bring with them a great deal of innovation and creativity, which should be nurtured within your company.

“When companies hire interns, they are considered to be the future workers of that company. Often interns will bring wonderful ideas and creative thinking into the company, and they come up with amazing ways of doing things.  Start-ups should be treated the same way an intern is – as part of the team – from day one.”

Watch the video below to listen to the full conversation.


Lex McArthur will be juding the METS Investment Pitch Battles at the upcoming International Mining and Resources Conference + EXPO (IMARC), taking place in Melbourne, 29-31 October.

Looking to meet with startups and scaleups who are disrupting the mining industry? The IMARC ASCENT Village will feature start-up and scale-up companies showcasing their latest innovations including augmented and virtual reality, robotics, AI, autonomous machinery, and sustainable innovations. Register for your free IMARC Expo pass here.

Mining Beacon

Community Manager, Mining Beacon