Mining IQ

Autonomous and Remote Operation Technologies in the Mining Industry

Fundamentally there are two sources of economic growth: increasing the use of inputs such as labour, capital, land and other natural resources such as minerals; or increasing the productivity of those inputs. Over the past century most of the economic growth has been derived from improvements in productivity, that is, improvements in output per unit of input. The ongoing revolution in technology has been crucial in making these productivity improvements possible.

Humans have been mining for at least 40 000 years. Two thousand years ago the Romans developed large scale hydraulic mining methods for use in alluvial gold deposits in Spain. They also developed underground mining techniques. Despite the long human history in mining and the ongoing development of new techniques mining has in the past typically involved much hard labour in often difficult and dangerous work environments.

This report was commissioned by Rio Tinto with the aim of exploring the likely future impacts of automation and other new technologies in the mining industry. Improvements in technology have the potential not only to extend the life of mines and thus increase returns both to the miners and the community more broadly but also to make mining safer for those who work in the industry. This report explores those potential impacts as well as the possible impact of new techniques in mineral exploration.

Autonomous and Remote Operation Technologies in the Mining Industry.

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