Eramet Group February 2020

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Ludovic Donati, CDO at Eramet, discusses the French mining giant’s use of drones, AI, ML and other cutting-edge technologies in order to overcome unique challenges and thrive in a new digital age


global digital transformation is underway. New digital solutions, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML),

the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data analytics and augmented reality (AR) are driving a digital revolu04

tion. Across every industry, companies are facing new challenges and exploring new opportunities. But digital transformation is more than the simple adoption of cutting-edge technology; those companies that wish to reap the largest rewards are the ones that look to transform more than their software solutions. “We’re not guided by new technology, but by the new applications of that technology and the new ways of thinking and operating that it enables,” says Ludovic Donati, Chief Digital Officer at French mining and metals giant Eramet Group. Operating since 1880, Eramet is a leading global player in the extraction of metals like nickel and manganese, as well as the processing and manufacture of high-value alloys such as high-speed steels, high-performance steels, superalloys, and


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“ We’re not guided by new technology, but by the new applications of that technology and the new ways of thinking and operating that it enables” — Ludovic Donati, CDO, Eramet

US$4bn in 2018. The company’s main operations include mines and process-

aluminum and titanium alloys. “We

ing plants in Europe, Africa, Oceania,

also produce special alloys for differ-

Asia and North and South America.

ent sectors like aerospace, nuclear,


After obtaining a PhD in chemistry,

defense, and so on. For instance, when

Donati joined Eramet in 2011 and spent

you travel in a plane made by Boeing or

three years in the company’s R&D

Airbus, you are traveling with Eramet,

department as a research engineer.

because we produce a lot of very

In 2014, he moved over to the corpo-

important parts for those companies,”

rate strategy department and, in 2017,

Donati explains. “Eramet is an interest-

was asked by senior leadership to

ing organisation because it’s both a

conduct a study of what exactly the

metallurgical and mining company;

digital transformation of a mining and

we are present all the way up the

metallurgical company like Eramet

value chain.” Eramet employs around

would look like.

13,000 people across 20 countries and reported revenues of more than

As the global business landscape is reshaped by the digital revolution,

CLICK TO WATCH : ‘ERAMET, EXPLORING OUR WORLD’ 07 a shifting political zeitgeist and a

demand for lithium in things like elec-

worsening climate crisis, Eramet is

tric vehicle batteries, smartphones,

undergoing a unique digital trans-

etc. and, to produce it in quantities

formation in order to employ new

that meet our customers’ needs, we’re

mindsets and technologies to over-

going to use digital to drive efficiency

come new and evolving challenges.

wherever we can.”

“We started by making some proof of

In order to effectively transform

concepts that showed good results.

Eramet’s operations using technology

Then, we decided it was necessary

ranging from IoT and drones to digital

to create a new digital transformation

twins and advanced data analytics,

department,” recalls Donati. “Today,

Donati and his team need to overcome

the crux of Eramet’s strategy is to use

several challenges that are unique to

digital to support being a leading pro-

a company like Eramet. “So the first

ducer of nickel, manganese and also

problem is: how do you digitalise a

of lithium. We’re predicting exponential

mine when it’s in the middle of w w w.e ra m et . com


“ It’s very important for our operations to be connected, in real time, to our experts” — Ludovic Donati, CDO, Eramet


a rainforest? Or the middle of the pacific ocean? That’s a challenge,” he reflects. The second challenge is that mining is a relatively old industry, and the skills required by Eramet are set to shift dramatically. “If you’re a miner or a geologist today, tomorrow you’re also going to need to be a data scientist and a drone pilot,” Donati says. “In order to align ourselves, we held a workshop with people from our operations in New-Calédonia, Gabon, Senegal, Norway, Paris — you name it. We sat down with everyone and worked together to define our vision for Eramet 4.0 using three axes.”

SAFETY In locations with environmental threats, Eramet is using IoT and drones to check equipment and monitor operations with w w w.e ra m et . com





Year founded

more accuracy and speed. “In New Caledonia, cyclones are quite common, and you need to run regular checks to make sure equipment hasn’t been


damaged,” says Donati. “Previously, we’d send a car with two people in it to

Revenue in euros

check and hear back in three to four


to three hours.” The company has also

Number of employees

days if everything was ok. Now, with a drone, we can reduce that down to two begun implementing AI-powered collision avoidance technology in its truck fleet, as well as overseer software to prevent fatigue-based accidents.


says Donati. “With all this data, we’re

In addition to reducing fuel consump-

actually building a digital twin of the mine

tion across its entire operation, Eramet

in New Caledonia, so we will soon have

is using AI-powered data analytics to

the possibility to run different scenarios

manage its fleet and process topo-

based on, for example, fluctuations

graphical modeling data gathered by

in the price of nickel.”

drone surveyors. “We’re using drones to do these topographical measure-


ments and, in 2019, we mapped more

As a way of solving the problem

than 300,000 acres, which is about 100

of changing skill needs, Eramet is

times more than the previous year,”

investing heavily in an operational



Ludovic Donati Ludovic Donati has been the Chief Digital Officer of the Eramet Group since its beginning in 2017. Eramet is a global mining and metallurgical group employing about 13,000 collaborators with a presence in 20 countries. Since 2018, Ludovic has been the Digital Correspondent of the French Mining and Mellurgy Sector and a board member of the Afnet association. A normalien with a PhD in chemistry, Ludovic joined the Eramet group in 2011, where he held various positions in R&D, investor relations and strategy (CEO’s office). Ludovic was appointed Group Chief Digital Officer at Eramet in 2017 in order to provide the company with a strong, coherent and sustainable vision for digital transformation and to launch concrete achievements from proof of concept to industrialisation in the fields of Mine 4.0 and Plant 4.0. He was nominated for the Next Leader Awards of Les Echos French newspaper in 2018 and won the “Grand Prix de l’Acélération Digitale BFM Business” for Eramet in 2019.

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Empowering safer, more sustainable mining As energy costs fluctuate, high-grade ores become scarcer, and profit margins tighten, productive mines recognize that technology is essential to their success. Companies must be smarter, safer, and quicker to respond to change. Their future depends on it. Hexagon recognizes that the competitive edge of its customers depends on empowering an autonomous future by integrating, automating, and optimizing critical workflows. This means smart mines that are efficient to operate, maximize safety and minimally impact the environment.

“ If you’re a miner or a geologist today, tomorrow you’re also going to need to be data scientist and drone pilot” — Ludovic Donati, CDO, Eramet

70 people, 50 of whom are focused on data science and engineering and now we’re working on AI, data sci-

transformation of the way it delivers

ence and ML projects. Our algorithms

expertise to remote locations. “We’re

implemented in our ferronickel or sili-

using remote expertise powered

comanganese furnaces are learning

by AR,” explains Donati. “It’s very

and, every day, they’re becoming more

important for our operations to be

and more accurate.” At the end of a

connected, in real time, to our experts.

successful year of small-scale imple-

We’re collecting all the data from our

mentations and proof of concept tests,

mines and plants and in 2020 we will

Eramet is at a tipping point. Looking

implement remote operations centres

to the future, Donati acknowledges

across our operations.” This, Donati

that the coming year will be one of

explains, allows the company powerful

monumental change for Eramet. “We

insight into the processes of its facili-

did a great job in 2018, running proof

ties, helping to drive efficiency on

of concepts and tests. This year, we

a global scale and enabling Eramet to be

industrialised and deployed a lot of pro-

more reactive to changes in the market.

prietary solutions,” he says. “Next year, in 2020, we will be aiming for full scale



This transformation has been defined by its speed and scale. “A year and a half ago, we had no competencies in data science, cloud, analytics etc.,” recalls Donati. “Since then, we’ve built a digital transformation team of about w w w.e ra m et . com


Eramet Group 10 Boulevard de Grenelle CS 63205 75015 Paris France T +33 1 45 38 42 00