Mentions of big data within the filings of companies in the mining industry rose 19% between the third and fourth quarters of 2021.

In total, the frequency of sentences related to big data during 2021 was 250% higher than in 2016 when GlobalData, from which our data for this article is taken, first began to track the key issues referred to in company filings.

When companies in the mining industry publish annual and quarterly reports, ESG reports, and other filings, GlobalData analyses the text and identifies individual sentences that relate to disruptive forces facing companies in the coming years. Big data is one of these topics – companies that excel and invest in these areas are thought to be better prepared for the future business landscape and better equipped to survive unforeseen challenges.

To assess whether big data is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of companies in the mining industry, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies that have mentioned big data at least once in filings during the past 12 months – this was 54%, compared to 23% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to big data.

Of the 10 biggest employers in the mining industry, Caterpillar was the company that referred to big data the most during 2021. GlobalData identified 26 big data-related sentences in the US-based company's filings – 0.3% of all sentences. Honeywell mentioned big data the second most – the issue was referred to in 0.2% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high big data mentions included Sibanye-Stillwater, ThyssenKrupp, and ArcelorMittal.

Across all companies in the mining industry, the filing published in the fourth quarter of 2021 that exhibited the greatest focus on big data came from DRDGOLD. Of the document's 1,488 sentences, five (0.3%) referred to big data.

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on big data and how important the issue is considered within the mining industry, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted carefully. For example, a company mentioning big data more regularly is not necessarily proof that they are utilising new techniques or prioritising the issue, nor does it indicate whether the company's ventures into big data have been successes or failures.

GlobalData also categorises big data mentions by a series of subthemes. Of these subthemes, the most commonly referred to topic in the fourth quarter of 2021 was 'data analytics', which made up 75% of all big data subtheme mentions by companies in the mining industry.