Understandably, most people want to know: “Is my job at risk, or will it vanish?” The answer is that manual roles that put workers at risk, such as explosive charging, are the most likely to be replaced with robotic or remote solutions. Other workers, those that carry out checks on electrical safety and maintenance systems, for example, will see the way in which they work fundamentally transformed, from physical inspection to using remote tools to proactively predict and prevent system failures.
Workforce safety is vital, and if there is not yet an incentive, a carrot, at national level, in certain countries there is certainly a stick. The Canadian government, for example, plans to issue financial penalties to operators that do not remove workers from the rock face during explosive charging. The onus is on technology providers to develop solutions such as robotics that enable miners to avoid such penalties and to protect workers.