Capturing the potential of future technologies while maintaining close relationships with regional communities has been highlighted on the opening day of AIMEX.
Industry leaders gathered at the Sydney Showgrounds to explore how the sector is being viewed by surrounding communities that are directly affected by mining operations.
It featured a panel discussion, which explored the need for collaboration between the mining sector and local districts in order to improve the image of the industry.
Austmine chief executive officer Christine Gibbs Stewart chaired the panel, emphasising the urgency of improving relationships in response to the “poor image the mining industry has, which seems to be increasing.”
“Partnership and collaboration is the key, it’s important that we discuss on the panel how to work with the METS sector to change the image of mining and change the way we do things to create the community we want for tomorrow,” she said.
How mining companies with sites that exist in close proximity to regional communities operate is particularly relevant to the topic, an aspect that was discussed by Yancoal Australia manager, environment, approvals and community relations, Mark Jacobs.
He talked about the increased pressure being faced by mining companies to listen to and develop relationships with communities, given how accountable they were in the digital era.
“Things like the digital age and the availability of information, makes us more visible to communities, with good reasons, they are concerned with what we do,” Jacobs said.
“We are still trying to break down the mistrust from the last 15-20 years, however, there we still have some way to go.”
A key discrepancy that has affected the perception of mining companies in the past has been the increased shift to automation and the impact this has on jobs.
Enterprise Improvement Solutions managing director Craig Hurkett spoke about the challenges and opportunities autonomous vehicles present to the sector, particularly in regard to maintenance.
“I’ve been watching the rise of autonomy and it’s an exciting time to be involved in the industry and the autonomous world,” he said.
Hurkett explained to AIMEX visitors the myriad of benefits offered by autonomous vehicles to the sector.
“In terms of higher productivity, we are seeing an improvement in the range of 20-30 per cent,” he said.
This, alongside lower production costs, less accident damage and safer operating environments were emphasised as the most enticing aspects autonomous vehicles hold for the future of mining companies.