A Rio Tinto official has stated that block caving creates opportunities for automation of mine equipment, which improves safety and efficiency.
Rio Tinto is in the forefront of development of remote-controlled robots. According to a March 2010 report in Wall Street Journal, Rio Tinto is using robots in its Australian mines so workers more than 800 miles away can remotely drive drilling rigs, load cargo and even use the robots to place explosives to blast away rock and earth. The author relevantly concludes, "It [use of robots] also aims to save Rio Tinto money by using fewer workers and keeping them out of harm's way." Which is to say, no medical bills.
BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's largest mining company by revenue, has a partnership with Caterpillar Inc. to engineer driverless trucks. "We have various bits of automation though no vehicles at this stage," said a BHP spokesmman. The company also has automated conveyer systems and remotely operated machinery.
The bottom-line is will the "skilled" employees want to live in Arizona's "copper triangle" where, even after100 years of continutious mining, the whole region looks like a third world country. It is blatantly apparent that no money remains at home! Superior mine has been closed for 30 years, yet Superior looks no different that Miami down the road where there has been no closure for the past 30 years. Then there is the lost town of Ray and the contaminated ghost town of Hayden, for the miners lived by the smelter, while management lived in a near-by town.... well, that's another sad mining story in Arizona.
Read the entire story of Rio Tinto's robots in the Wall Street Journal:
Miner Digs for Ore in the Outback With Remote-Controlled Robots
Source: Wall Street Journal