Mining in a world of change
For Rio Tinto, the focus is on building a culture of innovation and building capacity in future generations. For the past ten years, its investment in machine automation, remote operations and data capture has kept it at the forefront of innovation in the mining sector.
At its Iron Ore business in Western Australia, about 20 per cent of the haul truck fleet is now autonomous – making Rio Tinto the largest owner and operator of autonomous haulage systems in the world. Its 3D visualisation system, RTVisTM provides real-time information to decision makers, and drones are used for a range of activities – from conducting site surveys to monitoring turtle nesting sites located near its port operations.
Chris Salisbury, chief executive of Iron Ore, says while the jobs of today may not be the jobs of tomorrow – it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“Increasingly, we are finding that technology and automation is helping us to engineer out safety risks and take people out of the ‘danger zone’,” Chris said.
“We’re creating a workplace where machines do the repetitive tasks, and people make the important decisions.
“That allows us to put frontline teams into safer environments, and people to have safer, more productive and more rewarding roles within the mining industry.”
And while innovation in mining will invariably mean the need for new skills and new jobs, employers and employees alike will need to adapt.
“New ideas can sometimes be scary concepts,” Chris said.
“And let’s be clear. All of our jobs are changing – including mine.
“The skills and knowledge needed will be different, particularly as we start to unlock the power of our operational data.
“But I truly believe that embracing innovation, and an innovative culture, will lead to a better, brighter future for all of us in mining,” he said.