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Understanding technology in mining and its effect on the work environment

Joel Lööw ()
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Joel Lööw: Luleå University of Technology

Mineral Economics, 2022, vol. 35, issue 1, No 10, 143-154

Abstract: Abstract This paper takes its starting point in the fact that many mines have managed to improve its work environment, with regards to, for example, accident occurrence, while at the same time having stopped seeing improvements in these areas even in the wake of technology interventions. Technology projects in the mining industry continue to make claims on further improvements to the work environment, and make wider claims still, but have not addressed underlying causes that lead to underperformance of technology in terms of work environment improvements. This paper suggests that when we look closer at the situation, we find a complex situation in which negative and positive effects on the work environment follow the implementation of new technology. The analysis conducted in the paper further suggests that this has to do with mining environments having reached a level where historically major risks have been addressed; remaining risks, which are still significant, are of such a nature that their singular treatment — attempting to address these risks through isolated action such as new technology — engenders risks elsewhere. At the same time, the mining industry is of such a character that technological sophistications will fail to ultimately address the fundamental underlying causes of technology’s underperformance; technology by itself will never be enough. In part, this is due to constraints stemming from the characteristics of the mining industry, resulting in lower and slower technological progress for instance. The paper, thus, proposes a shift in focus with regards to technology, from technology itself to the processes surrounding the development, implementation, and use of technology in the mining industry. The paper, then, outlines some requirements for such a process.

Keywords: Mining; Technology; Social sustainability; Health and safety; Sociotechnology (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s13563-021-00279-y

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