Preparing for more robots in Yukon mining – by Lewis Rifkind (Yukon News – August 29, 2017)

Increased automation means the territory has to be prepared for changes in the mining industry

Mining creates jobs but jobs are fickle things. Not only humans can do them. Robots and computers can also do them too, and usually do them cheaper and better than humans

Signs of that are obvious, Automated Teller Machines have somewhat replaced human bank tellers. Even ATMs are now being somewhat replaced by online banking applications on smartphones and computers. Certain coffee shops now have automated coffee makers. Press a button and instant, freshly brewed java pours into your cup. Think of how many baristas those machines have replaced.

The mining industry is not immune to these changes. According to a report developed by the McKinsey Global Institute, A future that works: Automation, employment, and productivity (January 2017), 96% of some mining jobs, such as continuous mining machine operators, can be automated.

Occasionally the Yukon Conservation Society delves into the social and economic benefits, such as job opportunities, that mining can create. Outside of Whitehorse with its huge bureaucracy and associated businesses, most jobs are restricted to a limited number of positions with local governments, seasonal tourism opportunities, and a few private businesses.

The move to automation in mining is going to have implications for the Yukon and the well-paying jobs that the industry provides here. Skills are taught, and these are often transferable skills. Being a camp cook for a mining exploration project means one could be a commercial cook almost anywhere.

For the rest of this opinion column: https://www.yukon-news.com/opinion/preparing-for-more-robots-in-yukon-mining/

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