Digitalising the mine

COULD Western Australia become the silicon valley of the mining industry? There are certainly enough being done in the state’s north and by its mining companies to suggest that is happening.

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Michelle Radley believes WA could be the Silicon Valley of mining.

Rio Tinto has led the way in the introduction of autonomous technology on its mine sites. It was running autonomous haul trucks in 2007.

Other Pilbara players BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Roy Hill are moving down that path.

To do that they have all had to make investments in communications technology to create the digital pathways for remote operation to make those autonomous haul systems happen.

Away from the Pilbara, one Western Australia-based gold miner is on the cusp of making its Syama mine in Mali a fully autonomous underground loading and hauling operation.

Does this mean the end of people on mines? No. But it does mean their roles will likely change.

The technology will likely augment their roles rather than replace them.