New technology, automation to help miners survive commodity prices rout

When the worst collapse of commodity prices in nearly two decades finally ends, mining companies left standing probably will have more robots on their side.

Automated drills and driver-less trucks are among the new technology already employed by some of top mining companies, including BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) and Rio Tinto (LON:RIO). But a new study by BMI Research says that miners, big and small, are set to focus their spending on innovation through the use of technology and automation as a way of improving efficiency and boosting output at existing operations.

New technology, automation to help miners survive commodity prices routThe shift, say the analysts, will follow miners' strategy of retrenchment and divestment of high-cost assets, aimed at reducing costs and improving their balance sheets.

BMI research predicts that while weak metal prices will continue forcing miners to take drastic measures, spending will begin to focus on four key areas of innovation — human and external interface; IoT platforms & processors; communication & controllers; and equipment.

New technology, automation to help miners survive commodity prices rout

While some job loses will inevitably come with the incorporation of more technology, some believe the change is positive, as it can create more interesting positions while making lower-skilled posts obsolete.