Health and safety are being taken more seriously than ever in the formal mining sector, transforming jobs in Africa’s mining industry. There is global growth in automated and digitised mining methods to improve the safety and productivity of mine operations. As we move towards a new era of remotely-driven mines, workers from younger generations will be invaluable, already possessing skills needed for operating such mines.

future workforce equipped for next phase of mining

It is well known that young millennials and Gen-Z members have what seems like an innate technological proficiency. It should not be a surprise; this is the demographic that grew up with the Internet, gaming, and mobile phones.

The idea and experience of remote control and virtual roaming is therefore not new to these younger generations, so something like remotely operating equipment in an underground mine would be a skill easily picked up by them.

What’s more, given that technology has advanced to the point where we can do so many things digitally, people are increasingly less willing to perform jobs that involve physical hard labour.

This means automated and digitised mining comes at the right time for the next generation of miners, who in turn will likely stimulate the further development of automation and digitisation in the sector, and force needed changes to happen.

Why is digitised and automated mining the future?

Digitisation and automation in mining are important for the fact that they 1) Enhances the productivity of mines and 2) Makes mining far safer. Most significantly, underground mining is much safer when operations can be done remotely and workers are not required to go down into dangerous deep shafts to carry out operations.

South Africa officially announced its Zero Injury commitment in 2021, a policy that ensures no injuries or fatalities in mines as far as possible. The country has in the past seen high fatality rates in its mines, in part due to the fact that South Africa has some of the world’s deepest ore bodies that require workers to go further down into the mine shafts.

This commitment falls in line with the increase in digitisation and automation in South African mines over the years, which has led to a steady drop in fatalities and an improvement in the country’s safety record.

Worries about job displacement with digitisation and automation

There remains a concern that machines and automated processes will replace workers and reduce jobs in mining in the future. However, although some jobs will evolve and others may become redundant, digitisation and automation will also open up new possibilities and birth new opportunities for work and new types of jobs.

Are you looking to make your next career move? Visit CA Mining’s job board to see the latest mid- to senior-level mining jobs in Africa. You’ll find a range of mining positions across the continent, with everything from drilling jobs to safety, engineering, manager, heavy equipment operator jobs and more.