Michelle Ash. IPI Photography

Barrick Gold will be eliminating the position of Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) from its management team in a move to support decentralization efforts in its various mining operations.

The position is currently held by Michelle Ash, who was appointed to the position in 2016. According to Barrick’s website, Ash “oversees the Company's strategy for long-term innovation,” driving productivity, optimizing research and development, and looking into alternative business models. In August 2017 Barrick also created the position of chief digital officer and appointed Sham Chotai, formerly the chief technical officer for GE’s water, power and transportation divisions. Chotai will remain in that role.

The company told Reuters on Wednesday that it will keep working on innovation but that more decision-making power would be given to the operators at the mine sites. It has not made an official announcement about the changes.

Barrick reported a $94 million net loss in its second quarter of 2018, and wrote in its report that they completed an “extensive review of all positions sitting above operations, reallocating roles where appropriate, eliminating those no longer required and closing a number of smaller offices.”

The position of CIO was created at Barrick specifically for Ash. In a July 2017 profile, she made it clear to CIM Magazine that innovation was a multi-faceted endeavour, encompassing digital, technical and financial aspects.

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“The company recognizes that if we continue to do the same things the same way, we will always get what we’ve always got,” Ash said at the time. “[And] that the industry fundamentally needs to change the way we go about doing things because the competition’s getting stronger.”

Ash entertained ideas such as using Elon Musk’s Hyperloop high-speed transport to move material or integrating smart watches to monitor employees’ sleep patterns. She also pointed to Barrick spin-off business, AuTec, as an example of how the company could use its technology to advance the mining industry.

Ash will be staying with the company until the end of the year, Barrick spokesman Andy Lloyd told Reuters.