Exploring the social dimensions of autonomous and remote operation mining: applying social licence in design

Mineral industries Innovation Regional planning Employment Automation F H McKenzie collection Australia
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This report summarises the findings of a three-year study investigating the social dimensions of autonomous and remote operations technologies in the Australian mining sector. Project rationale These new technologies offer the potential for lower labour and operating costs, improved operational efficiency and a safer, more attractive working environment – all contributing to a more competitive mining industry. While the broader economic benefits of these technologies could be substantial, there may also be some undesired social impacts associated with the large-scale uptake of autonomous and remote operation technologies. Responsible mining companies cannot afford to ignore such impacts, especially in light of the strong public commitments they have made around supporting sustainable development and, in an Australian context, to promoting Aboriginal training, employment and business development. Commonwealth and state governments also have a strong interest in ensuring that the social aspects of this technological change are properly managed in order to fulfil their responsibilities for reducing Aboriginal disadvantage, promoting regional development and providing education and training. To date, however, the focus of research and planning around remote operation and automation has been on getting the technology right, rather than on the social dimensions.

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