An independent report by consultancy firm BAEconomics reverse popular belief that technological advancements in mining will lead to fewer jobs. The report, commissioned by Rio Tinto, argues they will have the opposite effect and ensure Australia’s booming industry remains globally competitive.
Authors Brian Fisher and Sabine Schnittger says that while some specific roles are likely to disappear over time, employment overall would be expected to grow faster while Australia maintains its competitive position.
“Relocating challenging new jobs to more desirable locations will broaden employment opportunities and attract more talent, in addition to easing overall labour constraints in the Australian economy.”
Rio is leading the way in Australia’s high-tech mining. Its Mine of the Future program sees driverless trucks at iron ore sites in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, operated from a centre in Perth.
John McGagh, head of innovation at Rio, said the report highlighted the increasingly complex challenges being faced by the mining industry.
“Our industry is facing maturing ore bodies, fewer tier-one deposits, increasingly complex geographies and labour shortages, and the report details how innovation in autonomous technologies can play an important role in addressing these challenges,” he said.
The report outlines that Australia’s mining sector is on the cusp of a step-change, with technological advancements to transform the way the industry operates.
In fact, the development of mining technology is creating spin-off opportunities and has seen the emergence of a new sector – mining technology services and equipment (MTSE).
A recent report by the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney found that total exports of MTSE products and services significantly exceeded that of the wine industry and, by some estimates, the motor vehicle industry.
The MTSE sector reportedly generated about $27.5 billion in annual sales in 2008-09 and employed 87, 725 people. In comparison, the struggling motor industry is expected to record about $11.9 billion in revenues this year.
Source: The Australian
Image source: Newcastle Herald