It seems counter-intuitive but one mining executive thinks automation and robotics will lead to more jobs in the mining industry not less.
Dr Sharna Glover, CEO of Imvelo Ltd, an environmental consultancy and training provider, told Mount Isa's MineX exhibition that contrary to the belief robotics replace jobs, automation would in fact increase jobs in Australia.
"Robots are driving an increase in demand for workers at higher-skilled end of the spectrum, with a positive impact on wages," Dr Glover said.
Dr Glover said we needed to plan a targetted approach to grow digital and robotic skills.
"A critical focus is skills development in the trades maintaining digital technology in the fields," she said.
So if automation was leading to more not less jobs, then why would any mining company do it?
"We all know we should automation purely from the safety perspective because people and machinery don't mix," she said.
"Beyond that, the value proposition is not about replacing people."
She said automation was really good at transactional processing where as humans were not.
"We tend to throw in things to make it more interesting, so variability is the biggest problem in the industry and we have to bring it under control to improve performance," she said.
She said Australia was uniquely positioned to lead and create a new technology industry on the back of our innovations such as automated underground load haul dump equipment, as well as trucks and dozers.
Dr Glover said research showed a fully-automated iron ore for example could lead to a 4pc increase in employment opportunities.
"As well as significant job growth opportunities, and a skilled workforce, the benefits of deploying robotic technology in Australia will generate significant environmental and safety performance and a smaller industrial footprint," she said.
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