What will mining be like in the future?  How will it be carried out?  How different will it be?  Certainly, at some point we will be mining non-terrestrial bodies, like the moon and asteroids.  I’m not really talking that right now, but I’ve written a previous article on that topic.

Mining will somehow change drastically in the not-so-distant future. 

Not too long ago I took part in a group activity that tried to answer this, at least in part.  I came up with some ideas that I thought showed potential. 

In my scenario, gamification came into play.  For example, haul truck drivers worked remotely, using computers and headsets.  They weren’t operating simulators.  They were working virtually.  They could work from home.  Or anywhere.  They were fed live video from cameras mounted on the trucks, from stationary cameras mounted all over the mine and from drones.  They controlled the view by doing what you would normally do – by tuning your head, but also, they could move around using the joystick so they could see other places.  Yes, I know there are autonomous vehicles, and yes, they show great promise, especially in underground mines where everything is highly controllable.  But with surface mining things can change.  The weather changes.  The road surface changes.  In my scenario, the trucks are also autonomous, but the driver had some involvement, for example they got bonus points for identifying road hazards that needed to be addressed.  They would make bonuses by earning enough points.  They were deducted points for improper performance, such as showing up late.  One of the participants thought that this person should be able to look after many trucks.  I saw it as only one at a time.  Maybe I’m wrong.  But in this hypothetical scenario, the mining company slashed costs and greatly improved safety issues by having people operate remotely. 

Is this really the future?  Who knows?  I know that the future will sneak up on us quickly and smack us in the back of the head if we don’t watch out for it and know what is coming.

Who will be teaching the new ways, and how will they come across their credentials to teach these new ways?  It’s time for those futurists to start getting involved.  I don’t want to get smacked in the back of the head. 

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