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New technologies will see major disruption to frontline mining jobs

New technologies will bring about disruption in the mining sector with many jobs set to go
New mining and resources technologies will see frontline jobs go but more will be created.

…but there’s an upside…many new jobs may be created.

Harnessing new technologies in the mining, oil and gas industries will add $74 billion to the Australian economy by 2030 and create more than 80,000 new local jobs, according to a new report released today.

The ‘Staying Ahead of the Game Report’ has been produced by METS Ignited and NERA, two of the six Industry Growth Centres established by the Coalition Government to drive innovation, productivity and competitiveness.

But the report also predicts a loss of 40,000 frontline mining and energy jobs by 2030. Those worst affected are likely to be mining and equipment operators such as truck drivers, dozer and excavator operators.

The report says that the “loss of jobs will be offset by 69,000 new jobs in the supply chain and another 53,000 new jobs in the wider economy.”

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said Australia has one of the most competitive mining, oil and gas industries in the world which will continue to boost our economy as it transforms.

“A vibrant and competitive resources sector is vital to Australia’s economic future and the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies will be a key driver of industry transformation,” Minister Andrews said.

“The use of analytics and robotics not only provides significant safety and environmental benefits, but it is also rapidly increasing job opportunities.

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“This kind of technology opens up new, unexplored opportunities for the resources sector and what this report shows is the huge economic opportunity if new technology is embraced.”

“The new jobs will be created across the country, including many in the regional areas where mining already exists, which will ensure the continued vibrancy of these communities.”

This announcement complements the recently opened $2 million Future Technology Project Fund made available through NERA, for projects that accelerate the commercialisation of science and technology, improve the uptake of innovative digital technologies, and encourage future investment, productivity and global trade, in the oil, gas and energy sector.

Opponents of automation say communities will be destroyed

But the opponents of automation say we need to be cautious about the move to automation destroying communities. CFMEU Mackay District President Stephen Smyth moved a motion at a recent Queensland labour conference to ‘take a stand’ with respect to automation.

The Union says that mining companies who automate processing and terminate employees should pay additional royalties “to offset the impact of the job losses” on communities.

“Automation and technology will frame our industry but it shouldn’t be a given we should accept it,” Stephen Smyth told the Courier-Mail.

“People shouldn’t be falling over themselves to embrace this new technology.”

Smyth’s argument will resonate with those jobs facing the axe, with thousands of operator positions set to go across the sector. Smyth says the industry should be shut down before companies could bypass people and use machines to operate fully-automated mines.

“We’d argue the coal should stay in the ground,” he said.

“There’s no benefit to us.

“Why would we want our coal to be dug up by a multinational, automated company, with no benefit to us?”

You can read the report here  Staying Ahead of the Game Report.

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