Atlas Copco and Rio have successfully automated surface drilling for future pit mines. That does not sound like a revolution but think about it: A surface production drilling experiment has been completed by a computer-generated drill pattern without human interaction, in what developers are calling a world first for the surface mining industry. Wonderful! The mining industry tells us; and, in some ways, it is. At the very least it is most certainly overwhelming.
Of course, mining cartels and companies have come to this next industrial step along with driverless trucks endless belts and soon automated trains and ship loading. By definition the mining industry has to arrive at no human intervention as closely as possible. BECAUSE…profit is their bottom line and the welfare of the workforce and the nations from whom they take their treasure has become secondary.
The hype that mining is a treasure trove for jobs is mythological. What are the answers? This is perhaps the basic issue for the entire extraction industry in this century. We now have come to the point that within two short years a mine can be prepared, extracted, shipped and retired. The days of the hundred year old mines are over. It would seem that the mineral removal industry could leave us with endless holes and infinite water problems. As the poet says, “A game and then moves on…”
There has to be a better way. We seem to be well on the way to a looted landscape.