Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

Barry Smart, Maximising the AI opportunity in the mining industry, Proceedings of the 2024 Resource Operators Conference, University of Wollongong - Mining Engineering, February 2024, 393-403.


This paper considers the impact of AI on the mining industry and presents a framework that mining companies can use to develop an AI strategy. It also explores how many mining jobs – if any - might be replaced by AI.

First, situational awareness is established by considering the impact the digital age is likely to have on the mining industry with a specific focus on what it means for humans, i.e. in the AI enabled world, which tasks are assigned to AI, which tasks are assigned to humans and which tasks will require collaboration between AI and humans: the question “Who does what?” is asked.

A technique called Wardley Mapping is applied to explore a case study where the mining industry is already benefitting from adoption of data and digital technology to mechanisation of longwalls to transform the mining value chain, and the introduction of AI is examined. Given the nature of longwall mining in Australia, it seems possible that rather than displacing a significant number of jobs, AI can be used to enhance the performance of existing personnel.

A rudimentary example of how an AI-powered virtual assistant could assist a Deputy in reacting to an emergency is provided to illustrate that AI will also play in shaping the future roles of the professions.

Finally, key factors that will enable a mining organisation to embrace, adopt, embed and sustain value from AI are identified.