Close to half of European and the Former Soviet Union mines to be using autonomous vehicles by 2020

Creative Commons image from Alex Dilon

According to Timetric’s Mining Intelligence Centre (MIC), 48% of miners across both Europe and the Former Soviet Union (FSU) intend to use autonomous vehicles by 2020.

In a recent survey of over 100 mine managers and other senior decision-makers at operating mines in 23 European and FSU countries, including: Russia, Sweden, Germany, Poland and Finland, respondents were asked if autonomous vehicles were currently present on-site, and if not, what time-frame is in place for this technology to be implemented.

Overall, 31% of respondents were using autonomous vehicles on-site, with a higher proportion in the more advanced Scandinavian countries (44%). This compares favourably with the less advanced economies in Eastern Europe where only 11% were using autonomous vehicles. The rate of take up of automation differed by region and corresponded with the diverse levels of economic development in the countries covered in the survey, with advanced Scandinavian countries considered alongside less advanced, developing FSU countries.

While vehicle automation has yet to be widely adopted, this is expected to change by 2020. A further 25% of respondents indicated they will be implementing the technology by 2020, with half of these planning to implement automation within the next two years. Thus by 2020, autonomous vehicles are predicted to be in use in 44% of surface operations and 51% of underground operations. This is a significant increase from the current 31% of all operations covered in Timetric’s primary survey.

“Autonomous vehicles can be a viable option for many operations in Europe and the FSU that typically face higher operating costs due to labour, compared to mines in Africa and Asia. Automation can address these cost issues, whilst also increasing safety for onsite personnel. Both the current rate and expected 2020 rate of autonomous vehicles use is also much higher than mines in Africa and Asia,” says Clifford Smee, Senior Mining Analyst at Timetric’s MIC.

All information is based on the Timetric report: ‘Technology Investment Intentions in Mining in Europe and the Former Soviet Union, 2015.' For their survey Timetric questioned 100 buyers and decision-makers currently working operating mines.