Fortes­cue GM warns of au­toma­tion skills short­age

North West Telegraph - - NEWS - Tom Zaun­mayr

Our stud­ies have found there is no fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit to off­shoring fabri­ca­tion com­pared to do­ing it on­shore An­thony Kirke

Fortes­cue iron ore gen­eral man­ager An­thony Kirke has warned of a loom­ing skills short­age in mine site au­toma­tion ser­vices as sev­eral huge new mine de­vel­op­ments lean to­wards re­motely op­er­ated ma­chin­ery.

Speak­ing at the Pil­bara Con­fer­ence re­cently, Mr Kirke said main­te­nance and con­struc­tion wire­less net­works and au­to­mated ma­chin­ery were big jobs growth ar­eas.

“There are not a whole lot of tech­ni­cians out there trained to main­tain the au­ton­o­mous equip­ment,” he said.

“The main­te­nance of the au­to­mated layer on this equip­ment, there is a big skills short­age in this area.

“The au­ton­o­mous layer on a truck is ex­actly the same as the con­trol sys­tems we put on our plants.”

Mr Kirke said sig­nif­i­cant re­sources needed to go into train­ing for main­te­nance of au­to­mated equip­ment.

Fortes­cue is plan­ning for its Eli­wana mine to be fully au­ton­o­mous. It is ex­pected to cre­ate about 1900 con­struc­tion and 500 op­er­a­tional jobs.

Mr Kirke said he was con­fi­dent the bulk of fabri­ca­tion work would be un­der­taken in WA.

“Our stud­ies have found there is no fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit to off­shoring fabri­ca­tion com­pared to do­ing it on­shore,” he said.

“There is no rea­son the bulk of this plant can’t be fab­ri­cated and built here in WA.”

He said Fortes­cue was look­ing into us­ing a mod­u­lar de­sign for Eli­wana which would min­imise shut­downs and en­able most of the main­te­nance to be un­der­taken with an on­site crew.

Pic­ture: Tom Zaun­mayr

Fortes­cue is look­ing at mak­ing Eli­wana 100 per cent au­ton­o­mous.

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