Mine Managers thrilled with Mupani’s automated operations

AMMZ Zimplats Mupani mine (1)

The Association of Mine Managers of Zimbabwe (AMMZ) is enthusiastic about the transformative impact of automation on mining production and safety at Zimplats’ Mupani Mine in Mhondoro Ngezi.

Rudairo Mapuranga

At the first technical visit of 2024 held at Mupani mine on Friday, the AMMZ asserted that technology will revolutionize the mining sector, generating new job opportunities beyond current recognition.

Mupani Mine is the first mine to successfully undertake autonomous mining on a narrow riff pillar in the world, thus giving the AMMZ the reason for information exchange with the mine’s Management.

Speaking to Mining Zimbabwe on the sidelines of the technical visit, AMMZ President Engineer Abel Makura said automation at Mupani Mine would go a long way in helping mitigate the challenge of softening commodity prices through increased production.

“The autonomous dump trucks and the level of technology around them, the operation, and monitoring itself make mining much easier. In terms of technology, it is obvious that when full implementation of all other production units, maximum utilization of available time will be made. And under the current environment of depressed commodity prices, those challenges can be offset by increasing production realized from this noble use of technology.

“Instead of just working hard to produce whatever we have to produce, we are now getting our output from working much smarter, and that is a positive. And we hope that all the learnings that will be gained from the operation of Zimplats can also be put to good use by other operations,” Engineer Makura said.

According to Makura, while there is a widespread belief that automation will lead to job losses and a decrease in employment by mining firms, however automation at Mupani Mine has proven that there is a creation of new roles in mining and automation is increasing jobs than reducing them.

“What I would look at is that jobs are just being transferred. Where the jobs were mainly involving people doing the actual work, the jobs are now transferring to people who are doing the monitoring.

“So it’s work that has been moved from a lower level to a higher level, which is a positive. And for every job that has been replaced by technology, it’s somehow replaced in a different context, and it’s going to assist. Also, look at safety, so it’s not that they are the only providers that are there in terms of providing that LTE technology. It’s an opportunity that would have been created for them. So when they are now involved in that, they also create jobs on the other end. So we wouldn’t say that automation is a threat to jobs. We would take it from the point of view that it’s increasing the number of jobs,” he said.

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Also, speaking to Mining Zimbabwe, Association of Mine Surveyors of Zimbabwe (AMSZ) Secretary-General Takunda Paul Mubaiwa said there are benefits in adopting automation. He said the technology goes a long way in creating new duties in mining than taking away jobs.

“We came to explore groundbreaking technology being used by Zimplats’ Mupani Mine so that we can learn from it. As surveyors, we participate in automation, we help in the programming and generation of maps, and anything of automation in mining is centred on surveying.

“The advice to other mines is their benefits in adopting automation, people should continue and endeavour to take technology as it comes. It is there to help, it doesn’t necessarily replace the person per se but it advances in roles and duties and working in a safer environment,” Mubaiwa said.

About the AMMZ

Also known as the technical arm of the Zimbabwe mining industry, the AMMZ is a vehicle for information exchange and dissemination of good practices and seeks to promote the study and growth of Mining and allied disciplines in Zimbabwe.

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