Slow rise of the robots

The time when robots replace all workers on a mine site may still be some way off, the Future of Mining 2018 conference has been told, despite the recent successes of autonomous technology

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Mine robots are coming, just not quite as fast as some thought

The technology is proven, the economics are compelling and better safety outcomes are guaranteed, however, there is no mad rush for the autonomous machines helping to transform mining in the Pilbara, Western Australia, and other parts of the world.

The "death of the manual mine" is a long way off, and may never actually happen, delegates at the Future of Mining Sydney conference heard this week.

Global financial advisory firm BDO, in a report on future mining trends earlier this year, suggested technology that could boost mining output by 15-20%, take big bites out of fuel and maintenance costs, and improve mining safety "exponentially" would inevitably - and quickly - make its way into most mines.

"By 2020, robots will replace more than 50% of miners, and min...