A BAEconomics report, commissioned by Rio Tinto to look into the benefits and costs of autonomous technology, reportedly concludes that investment in mining technology and innovation should sustain long-term competitiveness while also providing the broader economic benefits likely to flow from a strong mining industry.
The report, “Autonomous and Remote Operation Technologies in the Mining Industry: Benefits and Costs,” examines the advances in new technology, showing that while the costs and challenges of automation in the mining sector are substantial, they are potentially far outweighed by the benefits they can deliver. The report also finds that as automated systems allow workers to communicate with and control machinery remotely, this removes their exposure to hazardous mining environments, reduces or eliminates health and safety risks, and makes for a more attractive workplace. The appeal of these new roles, and the potential for them to be located in more desirable locations, will broaden employment opportunities and attract more talent to the mining industry.
“The BAEconomics report highlights the increasingly complex challenges being faced by the mining industry,” said John McGagh, head of innovation for Rio Tinto. “Our industry is facing maturing ore bodies, fewer tier-one deposits, increasingly complex geographies and labor shortages, and the report details how innovation in autonomous technologies can play an important role in addressing these challenges. The revolutionary technologies being tested now cement Rio Tinto’s leading position in the field of mining innovation. In Iron Ore, we’re introducing automated trucks, blast-hole drill rigs, sorting machines and trains, all of which are capable of being controlled by our Operations Centre in Perth, which already integrates our port, rail and mine logistics.
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