Mining companies in East Asia, Oceania and the Pacific are increasingly hiring for roles working in new technological areas – especially jobs connected to the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and cloud computing.
Figures show an increase in job postings by mining companies mentioning these areas of expertise over the past year and a half – a phenomenon that may have been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.
IoT related job postings in key mining companies have seen a recent global boom – with 1,973 jobs advertised in the six months to May, up almost a third from 1,511 posted in the previous six months. This has been seen especially in East Asia, Oceania and the Pacific, with 484 postings mentioned in the six months to May 2020 – up from 195 in the previous six months. Digital media related job advertisements in the region rose from 74 to 400 over the same period, and artificial intelligence postings rose from 150 to 234.
The Covid-19 pandemic appears to have accelerated a shift towards “intelligent mining” hiring in the region – a term used by consultancy Deloitte which covers adoption of digital technologies, artificial intelligence, and analytics solutions in order to make decisions and analyse resources.
The job figures are compiled by GlobalData, who track the number of new job postings from key companies in various sectors over time. Using textual analysis, these job advertisements are then classified thematically.
GlobalData’s thematic approach to sector activity seeks to group key company information by topic to see which companies are best placed to weather the disruptions coming to their industries. These key themes are chosen to cover “any issue that keeps a CEO awake at night”.
By tracking them across job advertisements it allows us to see which companies are leading the way on specific issues and which are dragging their heels – and importantly where the market is expanding and contracting.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT is a broad term that refers to devices that communicate with each other and exchange data and information. It describes the use of connected sensors and actuators to control and monitor the environment, the things that move within it, and the people that act within it. It includes a complex ecosystem of technologies, from wearable tech, to connected cars, to the use of IoT in manufacturing.
The IoT market is expected to surpass the $1 trillion mark by 2024, and when combined with other emerging technologies, such as AI, 5G, and cloud computing, it can lead to enhanced operational efficiency, reduced costs, improved decision-making, and better customer experience.
In mining, an example of IoT would be networked sensors used to monitor the mine shaft and provide early warnings for dangers such as flooding or gas.
Globally, there has been a recent boom in mining IoT jobs, following a slump towards the end of 2020. North America has consistently been the largest hirer, but was overtaken by East Asia, Oceania and the Pacific in March for jobs posted.
In recent months in East Asia, Oceania and the Pacific, mining companies in China have advertised for the most IoT related roles in the region – posting 219 advertisements in the three months to May, up from 53 in the previous three months. China was followed by Australia (65 job postings in the three months to May), and Japan (18). You can see the individual cities that have posted the most roles using the map below.
Artificial intelligence is being used within the mining sector to produce cost and operational efficiencies - for example to minimise queueing on site, reducing idle time, and even to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.
Globally, North America is currently the world leading region for new hires - with 311 jobs posted in the three months to May - up massively from 211 in the previous three months. South Asia saw 160, while East Asia, Oceania and the Pacific saw 141.
The biggest hub for artificial intelligence mining roles in East Asia, Oceania and the Pacific has been Japan. The three months to May 2021 saw 91 jobs posted, up from 82 in the three months to February. In the three months to May Japan was followed by Australia (17 jobs), China (12), and Singapore and Taiwan (six each).
Many mining companies are switching to cloud computing as part of their digitalisation strategy. However, between October and January, the number of new cloud roles posted by mining companies in both North America and East Asia, Oceania and the Pacific fell dramatically.
This trend is now in reverse - North America saw 563 roles posted in the three months to May (up from 209), while East Asia, Oceania and the Pacific saw 167 (up from 128). In East Asia, Oceania and the Pacific, recent months have seen the most roles advertised in Japan (64 in the three months to May), Australia (50), and China (19).
Digital media has also been a large area of employment growth in key mining companies - though recent trends show a dip compared to the start of the year.
In the three months to May, North American companies saw 517 digital media roles posted, down from 1,109 in the previous three months.
In East Asia, Oceania and the Pacific there were only 75 jobs posted, down from 325. China saw 34 jobs advertised in the three months to May, down from 152 in the three months to February. Other leading nations include Japan (19 roles posted in the three months to May) and Australia (seven).
Robotics is a key area of growth for the industry, as companies look to remove humans from dangerous to explore areas. Robots have been trialled mapping flooded passages, analysing minerals, and used in initiatives to improve safety by removing the need for humans.
Globally, North American mining companies have traditionally led when it comes to hiring people for these roles. Recent months have seen East Asia, Oceania and the Pacific region catch up though, with 113 roles in the three months to May (up from 61 in the three months to February).
In recent months, Australian and Japanese mining companies have been advertising for the most robotics-related positions in the region, with 46 roles posted in both countries in the three months to May.
Machine learning is another key aspect of the digitalisation of mines - working hand in hand with other key themes, by using big data to make artificially intelligent decisions. An example is the Canadian company RockMass technologies, who uses sensors and machine learning to capture real‑time data identifying potential failure planes on rock surfaces.
North American mining companies have been investing heavily in machine learning on the whole, with 202 new roles in the three months to May (up from 63 in the previous three months). South Asian companies saw 92 new roles (up from 33), while hiring has remained steady in East Asia, Oceania and the Pacific (75 job postings, up from 67).
In East Asia, Oceania and the Pacific, Japanese mining companies have led the way in recent months, posting 70 roles in the three months to May - up from 64 in the three months to February.