Western Australia could be on the cusp of another mining boom with 20,000 new industry jobs to be created over the next two years.
But you won’t have to pack up your life and move to the state’s north to secure one of these positions.
The iron ore tech roles will be based at Rio Tinto’s Perth control centre, rather than amongst the Pilbara dust.
Workers will sit at computer screens in air conditioned comfort, instead of down a pit, to remotely operate trains, trucks and heavy machinery.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore CEO Chris Salisbury said the state is fast becoming the Silicon Valley of mining technology.
“A lot of it’s got to do with applications of technology, the use of sensors and robotics, but also the data analytics that links around that as well,”
“The old traditional working in a mine and living remotely, or only being able to do FIFO (Fly In Fly Out), are in the past.”
Melissa Battaglia has been retrained to operate trucks autonomously with the click of a button.
She joins hundreds of other Rio Tinto employees making the move from the pit to the computer.
“It’s a bit lifestyle change, but a good one,” she said.
Mining FIFO employees have traditionally worked a shift pattern of two weeks at work with one week off, or eight weeks at work and six off.
But Miss Battaglia says she enjoys “being home every night” under new conditions.
Rio Tinto is working with TAFE to train up the next generation of miners, needed to fill the yet to be created roles.
“Those courses will become available not only to all of our employees, but also to the public as we look to export these skills to other parts of the mining industry around the world,” Mr Salisbury said.