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Mining executives line up to back new safety app

Thursday, January 12th, 2023

Troy McDonald and Brett Baker.

Two former BHP executives have created an app that allows workers to share safety and equipment information across the sector.

The Australian-developed app has been named Torqn and went live in late December 2022.

Creators Tom McDonald and Brett Baker met at BHP while working to improve health and safety across the company’s operations.

BHP, South32, Rio Tinto and Komatsu were keen to back the app, with over 60 per cent of the company’s $3 million seed round coming from the major miners.

Early users included those from BHP, OZ Minerals and Komatsu.

Torqn connects users based on the equipment they use in the mining sector, and allows them to suggest ideas and improvements and post safety issues and operational problems.

Baker has spent a decade working in mining as a safety and training manager.

“Sites tend to operate like little fiefdoms, and knowledge-sharing was always difficult. A mining company with 100 sites is likely to have 100 different sets of procedures rather than one standardised set,” Baker said.

“Part of the reason for that is that the mines in the network aren’t regularly sharing information because it’s difficult to do it efficiently and share best practice.”

Users sign up and join groups, called “loops”, that have the same interest in the mining equipment they use. Within a loop, users can post issues they are having with equipment, and others users can respond with a suggested solution.

Manufacturers can also respond to posts about their equipment.

“If you’re a major manufacturer and there’s a problem that’s trending on your piece of equipment – like a dump truck in Western Australia in the iron ore sector – we’ll develop a corporate insights dashboard,” McDonald said.

“Once we started to generate sufficient content and data on the platform, we’ll be able to market our corporate insights package both here and offshore.”

McDonald said the app could also radically improve on-site safety through in-app alerts, from companies or regulators.

Torqn plans to expand to other sectors such as agriculture, automative, construction, aviation and forestry – any sector that relies on expensive equipment to operate.

“The vision is that if you’re a general user on the platform, and you’ve got a Tesla, a caravan and a jetski, you can bring all those other pieces of equipment into your feed,” McDonald said.

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