The Future of Quarrying
By Dr Eileen Doyle
The Quarry of the Future relies on our industry exceeding expectations of positive environmental and safety management while turning to technology to develop smarter ways of operating.
We must continually strive for high standards across all elements of the quarrying process including being well-equipped to manage the ever-growing complexity of operating and securing our licence to operate well into the future.
It starts with extensive planning and approval processes, through to efficient operations that meet productivity levels, including logistics and distribution. It also requires effective understanding and management of customer needs, quality, safety, environmental impacts, community relations, industrial relations, investor relations, regulations and ultimately rehabilitation and end-use of the land.
Environmental and safety management and sustainability must be at the forefront of our thinking about our future. This is as critical as using digital technologies to help further enhance productivity and profitability because there is no doubt the Quarry of the Future will take advantage of the application of automation technology to deliver greater levels of efficiency and productivity.
These opportunities and technology advances require our industry to change their recruitment strategy to seek people who have different skill sets than in our quarries today. We need to attract digital technologists, programmers and data analysts.
Initially, skill shortages are likely to be the norm. It’s likely the people we will want to attract to our industry will be in strong demand and short supply. The more exciting and innovative our industry becomes, the more successful we will be in attracting and retaining skilled workers into the field.
While our quarries of the future are likely to be further away, it’s also likely that our employees will rarely be on site. The Smart Quarry will be managed remotely, perhaps with a caretaker and security on-site, and a maintenance operator.
To ensure we have the skills for the future we need to develop initiatives that promote and build diversity and flexible, safe and healthy work practices to attract and keep people in the workplace.
We need to take personal responsibility for improving our own knowledge – and do the same for our people. A well-educated and knowledgeable workforce has greater chance of taking a proactive approach to enhancing and growing the industry, rather than reacting to threats as they arise.
It’s critical we fully understand environmental impacts from our operations to ensure the industry is doing everything possible to minimise environmental harm and where possible, improve the situation for the community.
The challenge lies in using these intelligent, connected systems to extract data to ensure the industry’s growth is sustainable and, most importantly, the environment is safe for our people and we are meeting the higher standards expected of us and we expect of ourselves.
This is an extract of Dr Doyle’s keynote address to the Institute of Quarrying Australia’s national conference in Geelong in October 2019. Read Dr Eileen Doyle’s full keynote address.
Dr Doyle has been a Non-Executive Director of Boral Limited since 2010. She is Chairman of the company’s Health, Safety & Environment Committee and a member of the Audit & Risk Committee.