Robots to replace humans in mines within five years

Compared to Humans, robots can work 24 hours a day without complaining or engaging in labour strikes or go slows.

This is because some mines will within five to seven years replace humans  with robots, virtual models and sensors, according to Anglo American Plc.

"The industry that everybody currently knows will be unrecognizable" in five to seven years, O’Neill said. With mining processes automated, Anglo’s "employee of the future" will only need to focus on managing the company’s relations with governments and communities that live near its mines” Tony O’Neill, technical director at Anglo said at the Mines and Money conference in London.

Anglo is betting big on technology, such as computerized drills with "chiseling ability as good as a human" to increase productivity, cut costs and reduce environmental impact.

Bots, or software that can execute instructions, will be increasingly important in underground mining, O’Neill said.

Small and self-learning  robots  that requires less infrastructure than current methods, will be a game changer and commercial application is five to seven years away.

More so, human casualties when mine collapses will also be minimized if not completely eradicated.

Anglo operates some of the world’s most valuable copper deposits and employs 87,000 workers from South Africa to Chile.

Compared to Humans, robots can work 24 hours 365 days in a year without complaining or engaging in labour strikes or go slows.

Some analysts also argue robots would reduce supply of blood minerals since with minimal human contact it would be better accounted for and not land on wrong hands.

Anglo isn’t the first to invest in automation. Already in Australia’s Pilbara iron ore region, BHP Billiton Ltd. has begun work aimed at implementing autonomous trains along its 1,300-kilometer rail network.

Barrick Gold Corp. is a year into the gold mining industry’s most ambitious experiment to modernize digging, using thousands of sensors at and around the Cortez mine in Nevada.

The systems, borrowed from the aerospace industry, could increase productivity by about 20 percent and lower costs by 15 percent, O’Neill said, Bloomberg reported.


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