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Likely Employee Response to Mining 4.0: Lessons from Mechanization of Iron Ore Mining in Taita Taveta County, Kenya

The mining process involves exploration, production and post-mining land use. This process has evolved with industrialization. The first industrial revolution was mechanization, the second was mass production assembly lines and use of electricity, the third generation was automation and now it is industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 is characterized by interconnected smart devices and machines that use artificial intelligence, also referred to as cyber-physical systems. The changes in the mining process require good change management skills, and more so, management of resistance to the change. This study sought to establish employee response to the mechanization of iron ore mining in Taita Taveta County, Kenya. It also sought to find out the drivers of resistance to mechanization by workers and how to manage them. The main aim was to establish the likely employee response to mining 4.0. A case study approach was used and data collected through personal interviews with all the four junior employees affected by the introduction of mechanization and two managers of Samruddha Resources Kenya Ltd. The study found that the basis of resistance was lack of the knowledge and skills required to operate the equipment so introduced. Besides, the employees’ remuneration decreased because of change from commission-based payments to salaries. The main response by the workforce to the change was compliance. The study predicts that this scenario will possibly be replicated when the era of mining 4.0 sets in. It, therefore, recommends that to deal with the foreseen resistance, employees should be part of the change. This is possible if they are equipped with the requisite skills for the change.

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