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Rio Tinto will work with Schneider Electric to develop digital platforms, technologies and solutions to be deployed across its metals and mining supply chain to drive further decarbonisation.

The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop a circular and sustainable market for their customers in what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind collaboration.

The multi-product partnership will see Schneider Electric use responsibly sourced materials produced by Rio Tinto. These include low-carbon aluminium and copper produced with renewable power, iron ore and borates.

In turn, Rio Tinto will use energy and industrial services from Schneider Electric.

Rio Tinto chief commercial officer Alf Barrios said the partnership would help accelerate decarbonisation and renewable energy solutions by combining low-carbon materials with cutting-edge digital technology.

“Working together will allow Rio Tinto and Schneider Electric to pursue opportunities beyond what is possible for either company on its own,” he said.

“This collaboration also opens doors to consider strategic initiatives such as expanding the use of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to reduce downtime in our plants, digitisation of our supply chains, and a host of other transformative technologies.”

Schneider Electric industrial automation vice president Barbara Frei said the company would work with Rio Tinto to develop clean and pioneering solutions to meet industrial decarbonisation challenges.

“As the world’s most sustainable corporation and a manufacturer with a global network of smart factories and smart distribution centres, Schneider Electric is on a mission to make industries of the future eco-efficient, agile, and resilient through open, software-centric industrial automation and sustainable energy solutions,” she said.

“This new partnership demonstrates that Rio Tinto is as passionate as we are about bridging progress and sustainability for all.”

The companies will also partner to evaluate emerging innovation opportunities, such as the efficient production of critical materials for renewable technologies and advances in low-carbon, green steel manufacturing, both of which are expected to play a significant long-term role in industrial decarbonisation.