Rio Tinto to invest in technology start-ups for mining sector

Rio Tinto will invest $14.4m to back the development of technologies in the mining sector.
Rio Tinto will invest $14.4m to back the development of technologies in the mining sector.

Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) is partnering with a global venture studio and start-up investor to back the development and commercialisation of breakthrough technologies in the mining sector.

Partnering with Founders Factory, Rio will invest $14.4m in global pre-seed and seed stage start-ups over the next three years with a focus on technologies in safe mine operations, decarbonisation, exploration processing and automation.

Each of the start ups will receive a cash investment and take part in a four-month accelerator program run by Founders Factory to support product development and commercialisation.

Rio iron ore chief executive Simon Trott commented on the partnership.

“Technology has always been at the forefront of our industry and WA can be the Silicon Valley of the global mining industry,” he said.

“Our iron ore operations in the Pilbara are among the most technologically advanced in the world.

“This exciting new partnership gives us the opportunity to build on our innovative legacy to unlock new technologies and help our business find better ways to provide the materials the world needs.”

This partnership with Rio makes Perth the first location for Founders Factory’s entry into the Australian market.

With $7.2m in funding from the WA Government, Founders Factory’s Perth hub will drive decarbonisation and diversification with a focus on nature and bio-diversity start-ups.

Founded in 2015, Founders Factory aims to build and fund start-ups in partnership with entrepreneurs and some of the world’s biggest companies. Backing more than 300 companies across the world, Founders Factory runs programs in New York, London, Berlin, Milan and Johannesburg.

WA Premier Roger Cook says securing Founders Factory in Perth is a major coup for the State.

“This is the first time the tech accelerator has operated in Australia, providing a springboard for innovative local businesses to reach an international audience and maximise their chances of success,” he said.

“This three-year partnership will further cement WA’s position as a global leader in research and development, helping to diversify the economy and create the jobs of the future.”