Electrification needs different skills
Electrified mines will require less maintenance and human intervention. The use of automation and the internet of things (IoT) will increase as drones, autonomous vehicles and remote-controlled operational systems are rolled out more widely across mining operations. Data and digital literacy skills will be in demand across all phases of the value chain and redefine the mining workplace of the future. A recent EY report, commissioned by the Minerals Council of Australia,2 found that:
- Employment in the mining sector is set to increase over the next five years.
- Skills with growing demand include system evaluation and analysis, mathematics, active listening, instructing, data analysis, data and digital literacy, and judgment and decision-making.
- Skills in decline include vehicle operations, materials extraction, operations and control, equipment maintenance and blast-hole drilling.
This workplace won’t necessarily be smaller but it will be skilled differently. For example, “driverless trucks” will result in shifting skill profiles from heavy license drivers, to employees with data processing, digital literacy and technical planning skills. For employees, the ability to transition, upskill, cross-skill and reskill will be essential. And for companies, investing in an adaptive workforce will be critical to sustain their competitive advantage in global markets. However, to achieve this, a significant investment and an adaptive workforce will be required. In Australia, for example, as the skills gap grows, Rio Tinto’s US$2m vocational education and training initiative, Resource Industry Collaboration group, has delivered the first nationally recognized course in automation. This will prepare the next generation of workers for mining’s brave new digital world.3
Innovation is also changing the modality of mining work – from mine site to remote and integrated operating centers. Moving workers to safer environments closer to communities can attract new employees, improve retention and help build a more diverse workforce with sophisticated skillsets.