Automation the hot topic at MEC Mining’s latest industry event

Mining industry experts shared their perspectives on automation at MEC’s exclusive panel discussion and networking event on Thursday 27 June, 2019. Engineers and other industry representatives gathered at Brisbane’s Alchemy Restaurant and Bar for the breakfast event, entitled Digital technology: Automation at the forefront.

The discussion centred around automation as the frontier of digital technology, and the possibilities and challenges it represents for the future of mining.

Many aspects of automation have evolved from concept to reality in recent years. But, while companies including Rio Tinto, BHP, Roy Hill and Fortescue have made massive strides forward in terms of implementing autonomous haulage systems and combining them with manned operations, it’s still unclear how far automation can still go.

The event’s panel included:

The three panellists examined the impacts of automation on jobs, communities and families, as well as on mining businesses in terms of asset management, long-term planning, safety and sustainability.

“As the mining industry navigates advances in digital technology, specifically automation, we’re seeing enormous promise, as well as significant risks,” explained MEC’s James Cooney. “When we look at automation, there are clear advantages in terms of productivity and safety. New roles will be created but there are also concerns about certain roles disappearing. It’s a crucial aspect of our industry that is complex and characterised by rapid change. How industry leaders respond now will have important ramifications in the future.”

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