Automation halt: Why CQ mine is going against the trend
A CENTRAL Queensland mine has gone against the growing trend of automation, with global mining giant Anglo American revealing it will not be introducing driverless technology at this stage.
In June, Anglo launched a study into potentially replacing 23 trucks with an autonomous haulage system at its Dawson Mine.
The company this week revealed, following the completion of the study, that it will not be deploying the technology at the site.
"The decision has been taken to overhaul the existing fleet, rather than purchase new trucks and implement AHS at Dawson Mine at this time. In the future, this decision will be revisited as we look to replace the fleet in a few years," an Anglo spokeswoman said.
"Whilst the study found that autonomous haulage systems do present opportunities to improve truck fleet performance, we will be prioritising other measures to achieve safer and more productive operations at Dawson Mine, in line with our productivity program and FutureSmart Mining."
The CFMEU has previously flagged concerns over the potential job losses arising from increased automation in the mining industry.
Its Mining and Energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth has welcomed Anglo's decision.
"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand if you introduce automation, there will be less jobs," Mr Smyth said.
"We welcome the way Anglo went about this process. They engaged the union early on, did a feasibility study and then discussed it with us.
"It is really important (mining companies) do economic impact statements before they introduce autonomous haulage, and get the views of the community and workers about it."
In the wake of a spate of mining fatalities in Queensland earlier this year, several mining companies have touted autonomous haulage as a safer alternative.
In his keynote speech to the GW3 Future Workforces Summit in August, BHP vice president technology global transformation Rag Udd said significant events and injuries in haulage had dropped by 90 per cent since the introduction of autonomous haulage.
BHP will start converting its first fleet of driverless trucks in Queensland this financial year.
But Mr Smyth said he wanted more hard evidence on the safety benefits of automation.
"Just to say things are automated, doesn't mean they're safer," he said.
An Anglo spokeswoman said the company would continue to leverage the development of technology in its operations, such as its launch of an Australian-first electronic tablet device certified for use in underground coal mines at its Moranbah North mine earlier this year.