UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Automation and skill evolution : examining the impact on workforce skillsets in the mining industry de Holanda Araujo, Clara


This thesis aims to investigate the impact of automation on the mining industry’s labour force by analyzing the implementation of this technology in the Highland Valley Copper (HVC) mine operated by Teck Resources in British Columbia. The mining industry has entered Industry 4.0, which has redefined technology's role in the processing of minerals and metals. A popular technology adopted by mining companies is automation, which promotes the use of machines to assume human-led jobs. The shift in the way minerals and metals are processed because of technology has resulted in the mining labour market experiencing drastic changes in job descriptions. That is, entry-level jobs with manual, repetitive and physical characteristics, such as truck drivers, are at high risk of being replaced by automation with the adoption of autonomous haulage systems. The shift in the labour market has influenced the skills that mining companies are searching for, which now tend to be more technology-intensive and often require a high level of professional training. Through a case study analysis of Highland Valley Copper Mine and by conducting a series of interviews with strategic stakeholders who provided a deep and honest insight into their perspectives, this research found that automation strongly impacts mining communities’ ability to access jobs and enter the mining workforce. Although the benefits of increasing automation in mining operations are numerous, significant risks to the business and society must be adequately managed. The analysis provided recommendations for different stakeholder groups, such as government, mining companies, academia, and associations, unions and institutions, on their roles and responsibilities in supporting the mining labour force for a just, ethical, sustainable, and commercial transition to automation.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International