It’s man versus machine in mining’s new battleground

Business

It’s man versus machine in mining’s new battleground

For SA mines, adopting the technology being deployed by Rio Tinto is sure to come with major social unrest

Allan Seccombe

Jean-Sébastien Jacques, the CEO of Rio Tinto, sums up perfectly the changes coming for the mining industry and warns of the “social dislocation” that will come with the sweeping advances in technology.

Rio is one of the major companies at the forefront of rolling out automation at its operations. In a project started in 2008 called “Mine of the Future”, Rio now has more than 80 automated haulage trucks at its Pilbara iron-ore operations in Australia and will have 140 by the end of this year.

It has robots doing drilling. Two thirds of its rail haulage are automated, with 2.4km-long trains run without human intervention, prompting Jacques to label them the “world’s largest robots”...

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