Experienced miner Raleigh Finlayson has warned of suiting up too early to capture the new technologies being rolled out across the resources industry, arguing much-needed trades could be lost.

Mr Finlayson, whose Saracen Mineral Holdings just took over 50 per cent of Kalgoorlie’s famous Super Pit, cautioned at the Resources Technology Showcase about the message to young people that artificial intelligence was taking over.

He said trades were still going to be needed for decades to come.

“We need to be careful that we don’t have trades dovetailing off by default because we are not sure about the messaging we are putting into the heads of people ... there needs to be a balance,” he said.

“We need to be careful that we don’t suit up for technology too early and then realise we lost trades ... that is a real risk in the five to six years.”

But Mr Finlayson also said during a panel discussion on remote operation centres that underground mining would eventually implement the autonomous technology being used on surface operations.

“The opportunity in the underground space is enormous in the next 10 years, taking the technology that has been proved on remote bogging and being able to apply that to trucks,” he said.

“What the gold sector and other base commodities needs to do is work in collaboration to try and crack this nut ... a lot of the tools are there on the surface, it just needs to be applied underground.”

Mr Finlayson said that in a decade he could be talking about a fully autonomous mine.

WA mines minister Bill Johnston said during the panel discussion that companies should not be afraid about applying technology to solve problems in industry.

“Sometimes people argue that you should wait or that you should be too afraid of losing jobs but if you don’t apply technology you will lose jobs because somebody else will pass you by,” he said.

“We are a global leader in the resources sector. We have to stay at the cutting edge of technology and we have to be supporting decision making to allow that and we have to make sure we have the workforce that can support that.”

Carl Hendricks, Caterpillar’s Australian Head for Mining Autonomy and Solutions, said most companies Caterpillar had engaged with had an approach to managing the jobs that were displaced with autonomous haulage and for those that did want to remain, there were opportunities to re-train.

“There are operational roles that are still required with autonomous haulage,” he said.

“It is never all going to be done through a remote operations centre, there is still going to have to be someone who maintains continuity of what is going on in the field.”