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Future mining: workers' skills, identity and gender when meeting changing technology
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Human Work Science.
2008 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this paper is to discuss how to form work and organisations in the mines of the future. The Kiruna underground iron ore mine in the far north of Sweden is used as an example on how technical development affects organisational issues like skills, work identity and gender. Over a period of 50 years one can see a transformation of work from manual underground work to automation and remote control from surface level. What characterised the old underground workface was the close relation between man and the hard rock and with arduous physical work under dangerous conditions. Today, the face miners are located on the seventh level of an office building close to the mine. There is also an emerging, and in many aspects already evident, knowledge transformation - from the old and obsolete physical and tacit knowledge and skills (for example the ability to ‘read the rock') to something new, which can be described as abstract ‘high-tech' knowledge and skills. The modern technology has created a new type of work - new in terms of competencies and knowledge as well as workload and organisation. At the same time the mining company are recruiting more women and promoting the former pure male work as attractive workplaces for both women and men. All this has effects on how individuals and company create and recreate skills, identity and gender. To some extent the technological development predestines these changes, but there are some choices to be done when forming good work and organisations for the mines of the future. The traditional mining workplace culture and behaviours and the old type of masculinity, the ‘macho' style, will be challenged by the new ‘high-tech' work and new competency demands. The changes risk meeting restoring responses, which can have negative impact on the performance of the organisation, for example making it inflexible and perhaps ‘lagging' behind the technological development. These questions need to be handled when planning future mining.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Research subject
Industrial Work Environment
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-33219Local ID: 8061ced0-c769-11dd-941d-000ea68e967bOAI: diva2:1006456
International Future Mining Conference and Exhibition : 19/11/2008 - 21/11/2008
Godkänd; 2008; Bibliografisk uppgift: Sider: 213-220; 20081211 (biem)Available from: 2016-09-30 Created: 2016-09-30Bibliographically approved

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