The global mining industry must brace itself for job losses if a claim from accountancy firm BDO that robots will replace 50 per cent of miners by 2020 proves true.
Traditional operational positions – drilling, blasting and driving – will be at most risk, however, efforts will be made to keep current workers by retraining them for different roles.
And importantly the robots will hugely improve worker conditions. From robotic drills to self-driving ore trucks, automation is bringing a new measure of safety to mines.
Accidents will be cut by 75 per cent and fatalities by 50 per cent in the next two years, according to BDO’s ‘2020 Vision: The near future of mining’ report.
Emerging digital jobs will also attract more technologically-savvy millennials into the industry.
The investment surge in robotic technology will increase mining output by 15 to 20 per cent, while fuel and maintenance costs are predicted to fall by up to 15 and 8 per cent respectively, says BDO.
However, the firm warns poor internal controls could give rise to activity hackers – ‘hacktivists’ – as internet-connected technologies open the mining industry up to increased cyber risks.
“Global mining companies are under pressure to reinvent their business models and are striving to become lean, green, digital machines” said Scott McNaughton, Head of Natural Resources at BDO.
“Technology will be instrumental in the mining industry’s future, but it could also be its Achilles heel when it comes to cybersecurity” he added.
Mining IPOs are expected to make a dramatic return to the London Stock Exchange with four times as many flotations predicted as in the previous three years.