More resources workers will work with autonomous technology in the not-too-distant future, a report found.
Mine employees with experience in driverless, remote-controlled and smart machinery will be in high demand. This is the conclusion the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) reached after an extensive review.
MCA discovered technology has enhanced or redesigned 77 per cent of industry jobs. This is promised to deliver better health, safety and productivity outcomes.
“New roles commensurate with the continued evolution of the sector are also emerging, such as automation engineers, integrated remote operating centre controllers, remote operations port controllers and autonomous mine systems controllers,” the advocacy said in its latest digital mine report.
The publication claimed one operator in an air-conditioned room could control multiple machines at once from the same console. This could create more job opportunities for women and people living with a disability.
“That console could be proximate to the drill rig or [other equipment] thousands of kilometres away. Autonomous drill systems allow for increased safety, accuracy and consistency – all while delivering significant productivity gains,” it said.
“Autonomous trucks and trains that can be remotely controlled and monitored have also removed humans from potentially hazardous situations … [and], by reducing maintenance and fuel costs, these operations are more efficient and sustainable while also being much safer for the operators.”
Affected employees will be retrained and redeployed into new roles.
“As plant and equipment is replaced, original equipment manufacturers deliver onsite upskilling for experienced workers. Training of this nature ensures that employees are able to use the equipment safely in their current role, as well as provides a transferable skill that can be used to obtain future roles,” the report said.
The document also claims artificial intelligence can analyse large data sets, changes in temperature or vibrations, and predict future hazards and opportunities.
“Warnings can be issued in advance to machine operators and drivers, thus preventing accidents and injuries,” it said.
“By combining large databases that include mineral evolution data, geospatial information, mineral occurrence frequency, as well as historical datasets and modelling on exhausted deposits, data scientists and geologists are able to generate models to predict mineral occurrence with greater accuracy and certainty.”
MCA CEO Tania Constable suggested minimising human interaction is a quick way to reduce workplace injuries and fatalities.
“Technology is removing people from potentially hazardous situations, helping predict and model operational changes that improve safety and enhancing training so that the workforce is better equipped to perform work safely,” she said in the report.
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