The Impact of Automation on Employment in the Mining Sector

Whilst there is little consistent data on the impact of automation on employment in the mining sector, advances in the use of machinery and robotic processes have led to concerns being raised about reductions in the use of human labor, particularly in developing countries where jobs are already scarce. On the other hand, commentators highlight the benefits of automation – increased productivity and the ability to build capacity in new skills. In this quick insight we explore the terms of this debate. More information can be found by accessing these resources.

Three things to know

  1. Advances in technology can lead to increased efficiencies and productivity on mine sites and may have the potential to improve health and safety outcomes.
  2. Autonomous equipment is expected to generate higher income for mining companies and host country governments. This opens up possibilities for the  establishment of backward linkages through technology transfers to local suppliers.
  3. Automation is likely to result in job losses, reductions in the level of income tax paid and downward pressure on wages. This may have a significant impact on companies’ social license to operate. A carefully-designed local content and procurement policy, together with robust fiscal system design, may increase the value of sector revenues for host government.