Mine automation won’t kill jobs: report

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New advancements in mining technology, such as autonomous vehicles, look set to spur growth in the mining industry rather than kill jobs, according to a report by BAEconomics.

The report, commissioned by Rio Tinto, concludes that while the costs associated with automation were substantial, they were "far outweighed by the benefits they can deliver".

BAEconomics said mine automation technology would help reduce safety risks to workers and make operations more profitable and efficient.

It said the benefits of increasing profitability would help to counteract rising challenges to Australia’s industry, including declining ore grades, environmental challenges, and carbon pricing.

It said it would also help the industry deal with the rising problem of skills shortages.

BAEconomics said any decline in the mining industry would "equally be expected to slow employment and income growth across Australian states and territories".

"From this perspective, concerns about a reduction in employment in the mining industry as a result of automation are misplaced," it said.

"While some specific roles are likely to disappear over time, employment overall would be expected to grow faster while Australia maintains its competitive position."

"Relocating challenging new jobs to more desirable locations will furthermore broaden employment opportunities and attract more talent in addition to easing overall labour constraints in the Australian economy."

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