A survey by Timetric’s Mining Intelligence Centre (MIC) has revealed that 48% of miners in Europe and Former Soviet Union (FSU) countries intend to use autonomous vehicles by 2020.
The survey polled opinions of more than 100 mine managers and senior decision-makers at operating mines in 23 European and FSU countries.
Respondents were asked about the deployment of autonomous vehicles currently on-site and, if not currently in use, the timeframe for implementing the technology.
MIC’s survey revealed that 31% of respondents were using autonomous vehicles, with a higher level of adoption in advanced Scandinavian countries (44%).
Only 11% of Eastern Europe has adopted autonomous vehicles. 25% said they will be implementing the technology by 2020, and half of them indicated plans for automation within the next two years.
Timetric MIC senior mining analyst Clifford Smee said: "Autonomous vehicles can be a viable option for many operations in Europe and the FSU that typically face higher operating costs due to labour, compared to mines in Africa and Asia.
"Automation can address these cost issues, whilst also increasing safety for onsite personnel. Both the current rate and expected 2020 rate of autonomous vehicles use is also much higher than mines in Africa and Asia."
Further, the survey results suggested that autonomous vehicles are predicted to be in use in 44% of surface operations and 51% of underground operations by 2020, representing a rise from the current 31% of all operations covered in Timetric’s primary survey.