All the talk about AI and automation has created a fair amount of uncertainty and insecurity for some miners, who fear that their jobs may over time become redundant.
The reality though is that although AI and automation will replace some of the work that miners do, the need for mining talent will always be there and especially for technology skilled talent. With the introduction of AI and automation,this new technology will introduce new ways of mining, which should open doors for those in mining, who will be needed to work side by side with these machines.
In order for this to happen, mining companies need to look at their future mining talent needs and to ensure that they have the appropriate skilled workforce and technology needs in place, so as to ensure the continued smooth operation of their mines.
Drones and driverless trains and trucks in remote mines which are operated from miles away are no longer a pipe dream, and miners need to be prepared for how this will affect them and their long-term job security.
Concerning yes, but it does not need to be all doom and gloom. Over a hundred years ago people were worried that the automobile revolution would be bad for workers and result in massive job losses, and yes jobs related to horse drawn carriages all but disappeared, but this in turn led to the automobile revolution, which created a huge amount of jobs related to the design, manufacturing and distribution of cars.
The difference though between what was going on a hundred years ago and the introduction of AI now, is that AI could have a massive effect on jobs as we know them today. A November 2017 report by McKinsey suggested that in as many as 60% of occupations, that at least one-third of activities could become automated. That is a lot of jobs that could possibly fall by the wayside.
For this reason, we need to be educated and prepared, and it is essential that the workforce is retrained and upskilled so that they can evolve with, and work hand in hand with the AI revolution. Along with the automation of many jobs in mining, hopefully doors will open for workers to be able to focus on more rewarding less repetitive type jobs. One also needs to remember that AI will never be able to learn, so these jobs will always be available.
Workers with tech will also be in huge demand in every industry including mining, in order to set up and operate the automation systems.
On the upside as well is that there is only a finite amount of work to do and that automation may help companies increase their profits and demand for their products or services, and speed production up, which will mean more money to spend on employees and on training and reskilling employees.
Leaders in mining need to focus on on the job training and continuing education courses for those transitioning their careers, and whose jobs will be affected by automation.
AI should not be feared, but rather embraced, as miners and machines can work side by side for the future of mining, but miners do need to work smart to ensure that they are not left by the wayside.