How is technology redefining the mining sector in Western Australia?

Jethro Baker our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 08 December 2020

Every industry is facing technological advances that are changing operations, developing the skills of workers, and improving efficiency. There’s never been a better time for companies around the globe to implement digitisation. Western Australia’s mining sector is one industry that has transformed as a result of technology. 

 

Automated vehicles, smart sensors and drones are just a few innovations that are currently redefining the sector, and moving companies forward. In fact, according to McKinsey research, autonomous haulage has helped improved mining productivity in Western Australia by 20 per cent. The impact of technology in the sector couldn’t be any clearer. Here’s an overview of how technological innovations are giving mining in Western Australia an overhaul.

 

Innovation in the mining industry

Western Australia has long been a global hub for energy and mining. It continues to be an attractive region and is home to hundreds of mining projects. The process of extracting materials from the Earth has always been essential for society and for providing other sectors with the resources needed to thrive. Today, technology is starting to replace the need for traditional mining projects and infrastructure. 

 

In the 20th century, nations all over the world industrialised the mining process, but as technology has advanced, extracting materials has become increasingly automated. For example, the Rio Tinto’s iron ore mines in Western Australia opened the world’s first automated freight railway in the Pilbara region. The railway operates automated and unmanned trains, each carrying with it 28,000 tonnes of iron-ore. It’s a project that spent years in development, but it finally launched as a fully automated railway in 2019.

 

It has been recognized as an outstanding achievement for the company. Technological innovation has paved the way for safer and more secure transportation of materials. While the mining industry will always require a human touch, automation adds to productivity. While we are yet to see full automation within many other mining companies, Rio Tinto’s automated freight railway has arguably set a precedent for the future.

 

Adapting to new technology

There’s no question that the mining industry needs to welcome innovation to foster growth, but how do mining companies adapt their process to new technologies? Companies across Western Australia need to consider the social impact. With the introduction of more automation, mining companies will need to consider re-structuring their processes, and take on a more hybrid approach to mining. And with more demands for sustainability, the mining of the future will likely have a good balance of automation and human workers in different areas.

 

There is a range of benefits of using more technology within the mining sector in Western Australia. For example, automation and AI could improve decision making. Instead of relying on mining operations, they can use technology for assessment and analysis. In addition to Rio Tinto, there are many companies in Australia taking advantage of new technology, and who are researching for ways to improve its implementation. In 2019, Accenture launched a new innovation hub for mining and energy in Perth, aimed at helping mining companies with their adoption of digital technology. At the hub, mining clients work with experts to address challenges related to new innovations, whether it’s sustainability concerns or return on investments. Evidently, there’s now a greater push to aid mining companies as advanced technology and automation continue to grow.

 

The future of the mining sector

Nobody knows exactly what the future holds for the mining sector in Western Australia. However, it’s clear technology is forcing mining companies to change the way they operate in order to remain competitive. With the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning, frontline mine workers will be able better understand the environment through the use of data. We’re certainly heading toward a future where advanced technology within mining is the new normal. It’s important mining companies prepare for the changes and invest appropriately, and provide a transparent understanding of the new technologies for every mine worker.

 

Get in touch with our Australian office

There are around 1,000 operating mines in Western Australia, making it one of the world’s top destinations for the sector. Mining businesses continue to grow and there are plenty of job roles and opportunities within the industry. With the rise of technology, it’s exciting times for the mining sector, and the innovations show no signs of slowing down. Whether you’d like to find out more about the industry, or you’re seeking mining roles, get in touch with our Australian team today.


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