Remote-controlled sites the 'mine of the future' - Rio Tinto

Padang future of mining in Australia will involve trucks and trains running without drivers, while robots run key operations alongside totally automated large drilling rigs, the central control centre located thousands of kilometres from the actual mine site.

This was the view of the head of innovation for the giant Rio Tinto group, John McGagh, speaking in Brisbane yesterday. Addressing the Austmine international mining conference, Mr McGagh said advanced robotics and key operations centres would constitute the mine of the future.

He said Rio was already investigating and implementing numerous robotic technology and was set to install a totally automated tunnel machine in one of its mines later this year.

To that end Rio was developing automated tunnel machines, driverless trucks, trains and drilling rigs and new senior equipment to locate prime deposits.

Mr McGagh said while many miners pointed to the labour shortage as a key problem, it was an advantage that would lead to greater technological advancement in the mining industry.

"Australia has been dealt a great hand," Mr McGagh said. "We have world class mining companies, education system and technology and we are now building on that." He said another common complaint was the tyranny of distance in mining operations but that was a great opportunity for technology companies.

Mr McGagh said they were already running remote mining operations from Perth.


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