Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future uses Technology to Improve Safety and Productivity

Author photo: Sharada Prahladrao
BySharada Prahladrao
Technology Trends

The second annual ARC Industrial Digital Transformation Top 25 report continues to highlight companies that are succeeding at integrating digital technology into all areas of business, fundamentally changing the way they operate and deliver value to customers. This year’s Top 25 companies include many who made the list last year, together with some new companies. Positions were reshuffled due to the changing business dynamics and weighting components of the analysis: financial indicators, transformation indicators, and collective community intelligence. Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future uses technology to improve safety and productivity and the company ranks #9 in this year’s report.

The last few years have been particularly challenging ones for industrial growth. We’ve been cornered from all sides: pandemics, political unrest, climate change, and macroeconomic uncertainty. The world as we knew it a few years ago has capsized and the boundaries of the new normal are constantly shifting and realigning. Digital transformation is now an imperative and digital transformation leaders can be found across many different industries, sharing common traits and visions, helping organizations overcome complex challenges to innovate and stay agile. Several key trends were identified in this report: importance of sustainability, actively seeking to scale solutions in multiple dimensions, benefits of focus and prioritization, empowering the operational front line, recognition that culture change is required, and active outreach to others.

ARC Advisory Group defines digital transformation as: “The integration of digital technology into all areas of business, fundamentally changing the way companies operate and deliver value to customers. The organization is typically charged to innovate and improve across multiple dimensions such as: digital/disruptive technologies, culture and leadership, operational agility, workforce engagement, customer experience, environmental, social and governance, and competitive performance.”

This is the ninth in a series of blogs in the digital transformation space.

Rio Tinto Group

Rio Tinto is one of the world’s largest mining companies. One of Rio Tinto’s key initiatives has been the development of its “Mine of the Future” program, which aims to use technology to improve safety, reduce costs, and increase productivity. As part of this program, the company has implemented advanced Improve Safety and Productivityanalytics systems, autonomous vehicles, and smart sensors at its mining operations. The program equips frontline employees with intelligent tools that allow them to make decisions that improve performance based on contextual knowledge. Rio Tinto’s approach is multi-faceted, meshing technology, employees, and partners. The company has partnered with Caterpillar to supply and support mining machines, automation, and enterprise technology systems. Automation augments the job of the human and creates opportunities for staff to develop their skills to support a digitally transformed company.

The company intends to reduce its carbon emissions by 50 percent in 2030 and to net zero by 2050. To do so Rio Tinto is using cloud-native and Big Data analytics technologies to better understand electricity usage during the production and processing of aluminum.

Fully integrated mine operation and simulations systems fueled by digital twin technology and artificial intelligence combine data from actual processing plants with historical information. This gives the team in the field and at remote operations centers the ability to access the same information and make decisions in a fraction of time - sometimes in a matter of minutes vs. hours or days. Business outcomes are measured through enhanced safety and productivity, which turns into profits. Smart mining is truly transformative, using information, autonomy, and technology to obtain enhanced safety and productivity while reducing costs.

Road Ahead

Digital transformation is a continuous journey and ARC will continue its research in all areas related to digital transformation. We want to learn more about what is working – and what isn’t – as companies pursue their unique digital transformation activities. A lot is happening both on the supplier and user sides, and we would like to know about the pitfalls and success stories. The  ARC Industrial Digital Transformation Top 25 report will be published on an annual basis. With this being our second year, your feedback is very important to us as we will continue to investigate new approaches and measures to adjust our methodology, identify successful digital transformation initiatives, and help the industry as a whole digitally transform. We are on this journey together!


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