Melbourne — The mining industry wants to shed its image as a low-tech shoveler of dirt and instead be seen as a cutting edge digital-savvy employer of choice. It’s a feat that could be compared to teaching an elephant to ballet dance. While mining companies have been quick to adopt new technologies to drive costs lower, there is an increasing recognition that the industry needs to embrace the so-called digital revolution if it is to prosper in the future. This means moving well beyond the driverless trains and trucks that have helped Australia’s major iron ore miners cut the cost of producing a tonne of the steel-making material by about two-thirds over the past decade.

Harnessing technology, and the people to use it, was an over-arching theme at this week’s International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC). But there was also tacit recognition that the industry is a long way from being attractive to the type of workers it will need if it is to harness the advantages of di...

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