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Mining with Robot Ghost Ships
Posted By:  Amy Wagner
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The future of the mining industry is now (almost). The world’s largest mining company, BHP Billiton Ltd., is seeking business partners to research, develop, and manufacture giant, automated cargo ships that can carry everything from iron ore to coal.

Hoping to employ the technology within the decade, BHP would be saving miners in the iron ore market around $86 billion a year in transportation costs.

“There has been in the last six months a really big change in the desire of mining companies to seek out opportunities for innovation,” Ditton said. “There’s a much bigger recognition that there are opportunities to innovate across the board.”

The International Maritime Organization is already considering regulation of these proposed autonomous surface ships to ensure that their operation is “safe, secure and environmentally sound.”

For many mining companies, transportation automation is the next big target for innovation.

“Autonomous ships will change the way transport systems are designed and operated,” Ornulf Jan Rodseth, a Trondheim, Norway-based senior scientist at Sintef, Scandinavia’s biggest science and technology researcher, stated. If/when the technology is adopted by the industry “you might see that they build a new fleet of special purpose ships that puts the traditional ships and ship operators out of business.”

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