The debate on automation of mining operations is not new and has often raised different views. For mineworkers especially in developing countries, where mining is the main source of income, automation marks the beginning of hell. They will lose their source of income and the entire community will fall in a more deep poverty. But,Covid 19 has affected the mining sector in a way that relaunched the debate on automation. Indeed, mineworkers have been highly affected by Covid, they were stuck in mining sites with rising rates of infection, impossibility to meet their families, and living in very difficult conditions. In South Africa for example, on the 2nd of June 2020, more than 2000 mineworkers have been reported to be infected by Covid 19.
Therefore, limiting human exposure to mine sites became key to support resilience of the mining sector by continued operations while protecting the health of workers which is a basic human right. How to protect mineworkers’ right to health without threatening their source of subsistence? The main solution is capacity building, training them to avoid losing their source of income. Resource rich countries governments should seize this opportunity now to reorientate capacities of mineworkers and train them to be ready for automation and capture the best out of the mining sector.