Over the last decade, technology has transformed the world we live in, changing how businesses operate. Every industry has seen some form of digital revolution, and the world of mining is no different. Autonomous Mining Trucks (AMTs) are changing the face of the sector, helping to make things more efficient and reducing the risk of employees and equipment coming into contact, reducing accidents and developing a safer and more efficient workplace environment.
The current market
The likes of Codelco in Chile were some of the sector’s first adopters of this innovative technology, but its popularity has exploded in recent years. A recent report by GlobalData indicated there are nearly 1,100 AMTs currently in operation globally. This is expected to rise even further over the coming years, looking set to exceed 1,800 within the next three years.
The use of these vehicles foreshadows the coming talent crunch that will impact the mining industry. Enrolment in mining engineering programs is declining while demand for these skills is rising. The resulting shortage suitable candidates to operate the autonomous mining sector in the future poses both problems and opportunities. To combat the foreseeable shortage, higher education institutions are launching new courses incorporating autonomous mining and modern engineering, helping to change the face of the industry.
What does the future hold?
The evolution of autonomous mining is still in its infancy, but technology such as that used in AMTs is going to revolutionize the industry. The benefits that these vehicles provide are allowing for more efficient mining, increased productivity, and a safer work environment. The use of this technology can help extend the lifespan of a mine by at least two years while increasing project return by up to 35%. These new vehicles are not without their challenges, and companies will need to navigate these carefully, but it is undoubtedly an exciting time for the sector.