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OZ Minerals, Boliden and Rio Tinto will collaborate to unlock new and innovative technologies for managing tailings, helping the mining industry to further reduce risk while extracting the materials the world needs for the energy transition from what was previously regarded as ‘waste’.

Under the umbrella of the Think and Act Differently (TAD) incubator initiative, the three companies will fund and support innovators who are working to reimagine mining and processing to eliminate, minimise, reuse or find value in mine tailings.

They will also collaborate on other selected innovations to pursue improved productivity while delivering benefits such as lower emissions and reduced waste.

OZ Minerals’ technology executive Michelle Ash said technology could be accelerated much faster by working together.

“This is an example of how the industry can collaborate to support technology development.  We hope this way of working and supporting innovators provides a model that can be replicated because accelerated technology development is likely to have a positive impact on our industry and society,” she said

Boliden sustainability manager Joanna Lindahl said collaboration on generic challenges for the mining industry in a pre-competitive setting would hasten progress and make the process more resource-efficient.

“For the inventors and start-up companies in the TAD incubator, it is also an excellent opportunity to get insights and business understanding from several different mining companies. We are very much looking forward for this collaboration and hope to find new opportunities to strengthen the industry in the future,” she said.

Rio Tinto chief technical officer Mark Davies said it wasn’t often that competitors came together to collaborate on industry-critical work.

“We think collaborating on tailings management capability improvement could have an industry-wide impact. We’re excited to be partnering with Boliden and OZ Minerals through the TAD program,” he said.

The collaboration will support innovators by providing materials, funding, technical guidance and the potential for field trials at mine operations. Innovators will retain ownership of their intellectual property rights, with a licence to use those rights granted to the companies that support them.

The mining and processing industry has many long-term tailings projects across the world. Tailings are residues created from mining, refining, smelting and water treatment processes.

The TAD program, powered by OZ Minerals, works towards building an ecosystem of partners who will explore and accelerate themes that prioritise social and environmental responsibility for the development of the modern mine.