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Rio Tinto launches its Operations Centre as a key part of its vision for the ‘Mine of the Future’

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Rio Tinto has announced the opening of its new Operations Centre, a key part of the ‘Mine of the Future’, in Perth, Western Australia today.
The high-technology, purpose-built Operations Centre, located alongside Perth’s domestic airport, was opened by the Western Australian Premier, the Hon. Colin Barnett MLA. After six months’ ramping up to full capacity, the Operations Centre is now the primary control centre for Rio Tinto’s vast network of mines, rail systems, infrastructure facilities and port operations in the Pilbara.
The Operations Centre features 200 controllers and schedulers and more than 230 technical planning and support staff, using cutting-edge networks that ensure all Pilbara operations up to 1,500 kilometres away are not only controlled from Perth, but can be performed with the maximum efficiency.
“Two and a half years ago Rio Tinto announced that it would press ahead with plans to create the ‘Mine of the Future’ to build on the technology advantage we had established over our peers,” said Sam Walsh, Rio Tinto chief executive Iron Ore and Australia.
“Since then we have faced an astonishing array of challenges, including the global financial crisis, but we did not waver in our commitment. This Operations Centre is fundamental to our vision of the Pilbara as a single, integrated ‘one mine’ logistics system.
“We are already seeing the advantages this investment delivers. We can now operate our Pilbara iron ore operations above nameplate capacity, redefining the limits of what was considered possible. And these benefits flow directly to our bottom line.
“There is no other mining operation anywhere in the world attempting this on this scale. Our driverless trucks, remotely operated drill and blasting, automated train systems and remote train loading functions are just the start of a revolution that is transforming the way we extract value from our resources, and will result in a far better, safer industry than could have been imagined even a decade ago.”
It will assist Rio Tinto not only retain workers, but enable them to do far more complex and valuable work than traditional mining practices would allow – with undoubted benefits not only to Rio Tinto and its people, but the wider West Australian community.
The revolution underway at the Operations Centre has ramifications far beyond the resources sector, with the technology and innovation being developed and applied able to support and improve service delivery across the community.
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