Giant miner Rio Tinto (LON and NYSE: RIO) says the automation technology being rolled out in driverless trucks and trains in the Pilbara will soon move to the Bowen Basin, the major coal producing region in Australia.
Local newspaper The Courier-Mail quotes Rio Tinto managing director Tom Albanese saying that productivity concerns, with Australian miners hard to find and expensive to pay, were spurring the spread of automation to Queensland.
"There was a compelling need to expand it where we couldn't find people to fill the jobs," he said.
"I do see this work propogating in Queensland and the rest of the world. The first stage of that will happen over the course of this year.
"We have a few automated drills that work without operators. I would hope we will see an automated solution in Queensland, but the priority will be to get . . . tonnes of production in the Pilbara done on an automated basis."
The company has previously released modeling indicating that over the long term automation technology will not destroy jobs, but lead to employment creation.