A worldfirst, state-of-the-art facility in Brisbane will examine real time processing data from seven Rio Tinto mines across the globe as part of an effort to optimise operational performance.
The Processing Excellence Centre (PEC) was launched in March by Rio Tinto as part of its Mine of the Future technology and innovation program.
A mineral processing team based out of the PEC will share technical initiatives and solutions with the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia and Rio Tinto Kennecott in the US, as well as five coal sites in Australia.
With the aid of a giant interactive screen, technical data will be monitored and analysed in real time, allowing processing improvements to be immediately introduced.
The trial phase of the PEC led to various procedural enhancements, such as adjusting the flotation process to increase recovery of copper and gold at Oyu Tolgoi. Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said in the past 12 months the centre had already improved company cash flow by about $80 million.
“By continuing to develop and deliver a suite of next-generation systems and technologies for our operations, we are ensuring that Rio Tinto continues to lead the industry in delivering considerable value through technology,” Mr Walsh said.
“These innovations will significantly improve productivity, be better for the environment and be safer for our people.” Rio Tinto head of innovation John McGagh said the ground-breaking facility allowed the company to focus on optimising mineral processing across a broad range of sites, anywhere in the world
“We’ve been able to assemble a world-class team to work with live data and tackle improvements in processing,” Mr McGagh said.
“The PEC provides significant capability to the business by drawing on a global network of industry experts from operations, suppliers, and consultants.” The Sydney Morning Herald reported the Brisbane facility could soon be linked with Rio Tinto’s coal and uranium operations, given the similar nature of some of their processing techniques.
Rio Tinto worked with JKTech, Schneider Electric, Metso CISA, iGATE and The University of Queensland through the Rio Tinto Centre for Advanced Mineral Sorting to develop the PEC.