Remote Controlled

The mining sector in Canada is entering an “age of disruption” where advances in technology, like autonomous vehicles and remote operations, have the potential to fundamentally reshape the future of work and the development of peripheral resource regions. The mining sector employs hundreds of thousands of people across the country and it is the largest private sector employer of Indigenous peoples. The impacts of automation and other emerging technologies could, therefore, be significant.  Little is known, however, about the adoption of emerging technologies in the Canadian mining sector and the impacts on mining communities on the periphery. Drawing from the literature on staples theory and industrial restructuring, this research will examine the social and spatial dimensions of emerging technologies in the Canadian mining sector.  

In particular, the objectives of this research are to: 

  1. Determine the nature and extent of emerging technologies in the Canadian mining sector;
  2. Examine how these technologies are reshaping the sector;
  3. Identify what is driving the adoption of emerging technologies in the Canadian mining sector;
  4. Explore the impacts on the development of peripheral resource regions and the responses by companies, various levels of government including Indigenous leaders and organizations involved in economic development and skills training, postsecondary and research institutions, industry associations, and other stakeholder organizations.

Using technology assessment, key informant interviews, and comparative case studies this research will identify emerging technologies/companies in the Canadian mining sector, assess their social and spatial implications, and explore how regional stakeholders in Northern Ontario, British Columbia, the Yukon and Labrador are responding to these impacts. 

The significance of this research is the contribution it will make in identifying and understanding the potential challenges and opportunities associated with the adoption of new technologies in the mining sector. This focus is currently a gap in the Canadian policy and academic literature. Perhaps more importantly, this research will provide insights for policymakers and practitioners on how to mitigate the challenges and leverage the benefits associated with new technologies in the mining sector. More specifically, it will identify shifts in education and skills training which will assist postsecondary institutions, workforce planning boards and other training consortiums with workforce development. This research will also identify impacts and potential opportunities for entrepreneurship, business development, and local procurement. In addition, the regional case studies will identify place-based impacts and responses which will be an important learning tool for local, provincial, territorial and federal policymakers and researchers. Finally, this research will add to the international research on the social dimensions of automation in the resource sectors and the broader discussions on how new technologies are reshaping industries and the relationships these industries have with people and places

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Research Team