Mining industry looks towards a new wave of automation – by Eric Barker (Australain Broadcasting Corporation Rural – May 23, 2017)

Australia’s mining industry continues to push the boundaries of automation with the use of robots and remote-controlled equipment expanding in the industry. Automation in mining has a long history as companies look to extract minerals more efficiently and more safely.

However, the new wave of automation has been tipped to change the employment landscape of the industry. James Cook University professor Ian Atkinson said it was likely some jobs would be lost but expected it to happen over a long period of time.

“It’s not just taking workers out and putting a machine in, it’s going to happen really quite gradually for a long time yet.” Professor Atkinson said although automation had the potential to take some jobs it could also provide new employment opportunities. “You’re not going to be using machines to build new mines, people will still be doing that because that’s very non-routine,” he said.

Professor Atkinson said the latest wave of automation in the mining industry came in the form of robotics and remote-controlled machinery.

“Sometimes you can have combinations of things, autonomy most of the time and remote control for situations that the machine can’t quite do things,” he said.

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