Goodbye humans, hello automation: Rio Tinto ditching $225k/year drivers in Pilbara

In an effort to salvage dwindling margins, mining giant Rio Tinto plans by 2016 to cut 40% of its Pilbara train drivers, the highest paid in the world.

After a decade-long mining boom, salaries for the 400 train drivers in Pilbara have swollen to roughly $224,000, Bloomberg reports, providing stiff competition to the country's medical surgeons.

Rio is an industry leader in automation of trucks and trains and has plans worth $518 million for the "world’s first, fully automated, long-distance and heavy-haul rail system operating in 2015."

“[Automation] is going to provide a healthy return on investment for Rio,” said Adrian Wood of Macquarie Group Ltd. “They’re trying to squeeze out those extra few tons a year by automating.”

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 See also: VIDEO: Rio Tinto's robot army