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BHP Billiton has confirmed that drivers will still be needed for new trains heading to its Pilbara operations.
The confirmation comes after BHP awarded Downer EDI a $292 million five year contract to supply new locomotives to its iron ore operations.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald BHP said the new trains would still require drivers and it was not yet pushing towards automation.
Late last month Rio Tinto approved a $483 million plan to introduce driverless trains to its Pilbara operations within five years.
The company said the technology would improve safety, efficiency, and help with scheduling.
It sparked an angry response from the CFMEU mining division, which said automation would result in "significant" job losses.
Rio Tinto said while some jobs may disappear due to automation overall employment in the industry would continue to rise.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald unions welcomed BHP’s decision to continue with drivers in the Pilbara.
BHP has not ruled out a move to automation in the future and has already begun looking at the technology overseas.