Impact of automation ‘very positive’ on employment

The transformation of mine sites into fully automated operations will bring great benefits to workers, including the removal of conditions attached to fly-in fly-out (FIFO) work, technical recruitment services provider Fircroft has reinforced.

Though the benefits of mine automation are considerable – namely higher production, reduced costs and less wear on machinery – one of automation’s greatest benefits is allowing workers to go home to their families each night.

This eliminates the anguish and pressure FIFO work can have on mental health and relationships, according to Fircroft’s ‘2019 Mining Industry Outlook’ report.

The change is, however, optional, said Fircroft account manager Nathan Lovick. While there are over 400 active mines in Australia, only a small percentage of the mines uses remotely controlled machines. The demand for existing skills will, therefore, be retained.

Further, in the Fircroft report Lovick said, “Fully automated vehicles will not require an operator to control them, however remote driven vehicles – the precursor to full automation – will.

“With training and upskilling to new methods, the operator can do the same duties remotely in a safe environment, hundreds of kilometres away from the mine.”

Lovick said the Australian mining industry was heading into an exciting time, where companies would be eager to jump on hiring competition this year.

In fact, the digitisation of mines will attract future generations and millennials who are technologically savvy.

Last year in Queensland, coal exploration was up 27 per cent on the previous year, while mineral exploration expenditure increased by 35 per cent over the year.

In New South Wales alone, 25 projects – worth nearly $11 billion – are in the pipeline over the next two decades.

In facing hiring competition from oil and gas companies and the civil infrastructure sector, mining companies are encouraged to work with their agency and use innovative strategies to attract the talent pool.

“When engaging recruitment agencies, don’t be afraid to shop around to make sure your agency has the track record and capabilities you need,” said Lovick.

“Look to recruit the best people to your organisation and fit them in to maximise their strengths.”

This should maximise recruitment success, where old-fashioned attraction methods such as job advertisements will decrease in effectiveness.