The mining industry in Australia will adopt automated technology despite some challenges, as demand for services from the sector increased in 2017.
According to Newport Consulting’s Mining Business Outlook Report, a shortage of skilled professionals will not deter mining companies from embracing automation soon. Industry optimism reached its highest point in two years, yet companies believe more should be done to address a labour shortage.
An early sign of automation in the mining industry has manifested through the use of drone technology. Several companies use more of it for mapping out potential regions for expansion or survey existing facilities. It has helped in improving operations since workers are unable to check some of these areas.
However, the disadvantage of introducing more modern tools involves a digital disruption. Many employees remain unskilled in handling new technology. For this reason, Newport Consulting’s report advised the industry to focus on training and skills development due to a “growing skills gap.” This will be crucial to sustain an increasing demand for services from the previous year.
Aluminium pipework systems, construction equipment and other mining essentials became more in-demand in 2017, as the last 12 months were arguably the best time for mining service companies. Ausdrill, BGC Contracting, CIMIC, Civmec and GR Engineering comprise some of the firms that clinched major contracts.
Some of these high-profile projects include BGC Contracting’s recent $700-million deal with Idemitsu Australia Resources for a coal mine in New South Wales. It followed a separate contract worth more than $720 million with Arrium for an iron ore mine in South Australia.
Australia’s mining sector needs more skilled workers to advance its initiative of automating operations while continually investing in high-quality equipment at the same time. What is your outlook for the industry in 2018?