Automation and Robotics is the Future of Mining

Posted: 03/06/2012
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With Rio Tinto recently announcing its half a billion dollar investment on driverless trains in its iron ore mines, other mining companies are keenly interested in capitalising on automation. The Mine Site Automation and Communications 2012 event, to be held in Brisbane on the 13-15thMarch will discuss the latest trends in automation and how companies could use such technology to improve productivity and reduce costs.

"Rio’s decision to introduce driverless trains has got the Mining industry intrigued about where automation technologies in mining could lead," said Francesca De Michele, Program Director for the event.

"Having run this event successfully for several years there is a noticeable shift in regards to the industry’s view on automation. Notably, companies are becoming more vested in robotics, and are looking to move from automated systems to autonomous operations."

Automation is seen as a viable way to reduce operation costs in a time when severe labour shortage is driving up wages. Many companies also see it as a way to significantly increase productivity as well as efficiency.

However, there are also safety benefits with automation – if installed and managed correctly.

"The implementation of collision avoidance systems in both underground and open pit environments is critical in preventing injuries onsite and improving the level of safety to workers," said De Michele.

"However, technology is not fault-proof. The primary challenge for companies is how they can integrate it into existing operations and infrastructure whilst understanding its impact on safety."

De Michele says that because the Australian Mining industry is leading the way in automation, there is much value for companies to attend Mining IQ’s Mine Site Automation & Communication events.

"Rio Tinto, Xstrata Zinc and Vale Australia have significant experience and proven results in automation, and since there are representatives from these companies speaking at this event, I expect plenty of interesting discussions on the day."

Presenters at the event include:

  • Joe Cronin, LHD Automation Project Manager, Northparkes Mines, Rio Tinto
  • Marc Wilkinson, Senior Supervisor, George Fisher Mine, Xstrata Zinc
  • Simon Blears, Process Control & Automation Superintendent, Argyle Underground Project, Rio Tinto Technology & Innovation
  • Stuart Atwell Electrical Engineer - Carborough Downs, Vale Australia
  • Mal Jones, Manager Asia Pacific Region, 3D-P

For more information on the Mine Site Automation and Communication 2012 event, please visit, call 02 9229 1000 or email

Media Contact:

Arthur Chan

Online Communications Manager

Mining IQ