A new research report commissioned by Rio Tinto has outlined the benefits and costs of autonomous technology in the mining industry.
Advances in new technology and costs and challenges of automation in the mining sector are examined in the study, which notes that while the initial outlay is substantial, this is outweighed by the benefits it can deliver.
The BAEconomics report concludes that investment in mining technology and innovation should sustain long-term competitiveness while also providing broader economic benefits.
The report also states that automated systems remove exposure to hazardous mining environments, reduces health and safety risks and makes for an attractive workplace.
Rio Tinto head of innovation John McGagh said the increasingly complex challenges being faced by the mining industry are highlighted by the BAEconomics report.
"Our industry is facing maturing ore bodies, fewer tier-one deposits, increasingly complex geographies and labour shortages and the report details how innovation in autonomous technologies can play an important role in addressing these challenges," said McGagh.
"The revolutionary technologies being tested now cement Rio Tinto's leading position in the field of mining innovation."
Rio Tinto is introducing automated trucks, blast-hole drill rigs, sorting machines and trains in iron ore, which can be controlled by its operations centre in Perth, Australia.
Image: Rio Tinto believes its report plays a role in addressing the challenges of labour shortages. Photo: Courtesy of Rio Tinto.