TAFE WA is set to offer two automation courses targeting current workers as well as secondary students.
The courses are the result of the Resource Industry Collaboration between the WA state government, South Metropolitan TAFE and Rio Tinto.
Rio Tinto contributed $2 million towards the new training program, the state government said.
The WA mining industry is a global leader in automation, with Rio Tinto leading the way in its adoption of autonomous trains, trucks and drills,” the government said.
“The new automation courses will position WA workers to take full advantage of the … opportunities automation is expected to deliver to the industry and economy.”
Certificate II in Autonomous Workplace Operations will be delivered as a pilot VET for secondary students from Cecil Andrews College, Gilmore College, Baldivis Secondary College and Karratha Senior High School.
Meanwhile, a “micro-credential course” called ‘Working Effectively in an Automation Workplace’ is to be offered to “trade qualified workers and apprentices ... to improve their skills in automation.”
Rio Tinto said separately that “a Certificate IV in Remote Centre Operations [is] also in development.”
Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said that the courses were “the first nationally recognised certifications in automation.”
Rio Tinto was one of the first miners to embrace large-scale automation through its Mine of the Future program, which saw autonomous trucks, drills and trains deployed to its iron ore operations, before some of the technology was expanded to its east coast copper and coal operations.
The miner has since opened a new front in its automation push with its new breed of mines set to be “intelligent” by design - rather than by retrofit.
However, it has previously warned that finding the right skills needed to develop for - and oversee - automated sites is tricky.
The WA government said the Resource Industry Collaboration also counted other mining partners, including FMG, BHP and Komatsu, along with representatives from Scitech and The University of Western Australia.