Tag Archives: Mark Davies

Rio delivers first ore from its most technologically advanced iron ore mine, Gudai-Darri

Rio Tinto has delivered first ore from the Gudai-Darri iron ore mine as the company brings online its first greenfield mine in the Pilbara, Western Australia, in more than a decade.

Gudai-Darri, which features autonomous trucks, trains and drills, as well as the world’s first autonomous water trucks, will help underpin future production of the company’s flagship Pilbara Blend™ product, Rio says.

The first autonomous AutoHaul™ trains loaded with ore from Gudai-Darri’s process plant have travelled the new 166-km rail line that connects to Rio Tinto’s existing rail and port infrastructure. Production from the mine will continue to ramp up through the remainder of this year and is expected to reach full capacity during 2023.

Since ground was broken in April 2019, more than 14 million workhours have resulted in the movement of over 20 million cu.m of earth, batching and placement of 35,000 cu.m of concrete and the installation of 10,000 t of steel. The development of Gudai-Darri supported more than 3,000 jobs during the construction and design phase, with the mine set to support around 600 ongoing permanent roles.

With an expected life of more than 40 years and an annual capacity of 43 Mt, Gudai-Darri will underpin future production of Pilbara Blend product, the company says. A feasibility study to support an expansion of this new hub is also progressing.

The mine’s commissioning and ramp-up is expected to increase Rio Tinto’s iron ore production volumes and improve product mix from the Pilbara in the second half of this year. Full-year shipments guidance for 2022 remains at 320-335 Mt (100% basis) subject to risks around the ramp up of new mines, weather and management of cultural heritage.

The capital cost for the mine is estimated to be $3.1 billion. As disclosed in February, the company’s replacement projects in the Pilbara, including Gudai-Darri, were subject to potential capital increases of approximately 15% due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, including labour access and supply chain quality issues. Group capital expenditure guidance for 2022 is unchanged at around $8 billion.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Simon Trott, said: “The commissioning of Gudai-Darri represents the successful delivery of our first greenfield mine in over a decade, helping to support increased output of Pilbara Blend, our flagship product. It sets a new standard for Rio Tinto mine developments through its deployment of technology and innovation to enhance productivity and improve safety.

“I’d like to acknowledge the support of the Traditional Owners, the Banjima People, on whose country Gudai-Darri is situated. We have worked closely with the Banjima People to progress this project and we look forward to continuing to actively partner with them into the future.”

Rio Tinto Chief Technical Officer, Mark Davies, said: “The safe and successful delivery of Gudai-Darri, in the midst of a global pandemic, is testament to the resilience and hard work of thousands of Rio Tinto employees and contractors, including a range of local Western Australian suppliers, as well as Pilbara Aboriginal businesses.

“In building this new hub we have brought together the best of our innovations, including autonomous trucks, trains and drills, as well as the world’s first autonomous water trucks, to make Gudai-Darri our most technologically advanced iron ore mine.

“This suite of autonomous assets complements the planned deployment of other leading-edge technologies including a robotic ore sampling laboratory, field mobility devices for all personnel and a digital asset of the fixed plant, which, together with data analytics, will make Gudai Darri safer and more productive.”

Helping support Rio Tinto’s carbon emission reduction targets, Gudai-Darri will be powered by a 34 MW solar farm that is expected to supply about a third of the mine’s average electricity demand once construction is complete in August.

Together with a new lithium-ion battery energy storage system in Tom Price, the solar plant is estimated to reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 90,000 t compared with conventional gas powered generation, equivalent to taking about 28,000 cars off the road.

Canada launches MMAP project to evaluate natural resource genomic sequencing

Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster has launched the Mining Microbiome Analysis Platform (MMAP) project, which, it says, is the largest investment in planned natural resource genomic sequencing in the history of the sector.

With breakthrough biomining solutions, the MMAP project will be the catalyst for sustainable mining practices on a global scale by replacing energy and chemical-intense resource extraction methods and improving mining site clean-up techniques, it says.

Led by Teck Resources, and in partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC), BGC Engineering, Koonkie Canada, Rio Tinto, Genome BC, Allonnia, Microsoft and the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI), this consortium is creating the first integrated online platform to extract the DNA from more than 15,000 mining site samples over the next two years to identify microbes that can be used to replace chemical and other legacy extraction methods for minerals and metals, and to perform safer, more effective remediation of legacy and operational mine sites. UBC’s Bradshaw Research Initiative for Minerals and Mining (BRIMM), in particular, has played a formative role in bringing together the private industry partners, non-profit genomics and mining sector organisations, and academic researchers crucial to this unique partnership.

The combination of technology companies, researchers, and mining sector companies provides MMAP both the critical mass to develop viable solutions and a direct pathway to commercial adoption, it says.

François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, said: “As we transition towards our net-zero future, the mining sector can and will play a crucial role in our green recovery. We are proud to see Canadian mining leaders such as Teck Resources driving innovation and accelerating sustainable mining practices.

“Through Digital Technology Supercluster projects such as this one, we are creating well-paying jobs and breakthroughs in biomining that are important to Canada, and those advances will contribute to achieving environmental sustainability not just here but also on a global scale.”

Don Lindsay, President and CEO, Teck, added: “At Teck, we’re continually looking for the most effective ways to protect the environment while we produce the metals and minerals needed to build a better quality of life for people around the world. We’re pleased to partner on the MMAP project which stands to advance the mining industry’s collective commitment to responsible resource development.”

Mark Davies, Chief Technical Officer at Rio Tinto, said: “As an early mining user of the platform, we see the transformative potential for this microbiome-based technology to promote environmental stewardship and help us achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. By providing samples from our mines for genome sequencing, we are contributing to the potential development of breakthrough biological solutions to decarbonize the extraction and processing of metals and minerals, and to support the remediation of mine sites.”

This project is also supported by the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation as well as the Tahltan Central Government, and Illumina, a global genomics sequencing company. The Mining Microbiome Analysis Platform project has a total investment of C$16.6 million ($13.1 million) with C$12.6 million invested by industry and C$3.99 million co-invested through the Digital Supercluster’s Technology Leadership Program.

Sue Paish, CEO of the Digital Technology Supercluster, concluded: “Changing how the mining industry interacts with the natural world requires broad collaboration so that, together, we can create a more sustainable future. The Digital Supercluster is proud to see Canadian companies and organizations such as Teck, BGC Engineering, Koonkie Canada, Rio Tinto, UBC, Genome BC, Allonnia, Microsoft and the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation lead the way in cleaner natural resource extraction and more responsible site management.”

Rio Tinto reinforces strategy, technology and climate change focus

Rio Tinto has added a new role to its Executive Committee as it considers the next phase of its transformation to, it says, reinforce the company’s commitment to strategy, technology and climate change in a new era.

Peter Toth will become Group Executive, Strategy and Development with a focus on leading Rio Tinto’s transformation efforts around portfolio, climate change, and closure, working in partnership with the product group and commercial teams. He will also assume responsibility for Rio Tinto Exploration and Ventures.

Stephen McIntosh, Group Executive of Growth & Innovation and Health, Safety & Environment (HSE), has decided to retire after more than 30 years with Rio, leaving the company on September 30. McIntosh joined the company as an exploration geophysicist in 1987 and led the exploration team from 2011 to 2016, joining the Executive Committee in 2016. During his time with the company, he built strong exploration, project and technology capabilities, Rio said.

With McIntosh’s departure, Mark Davies will assume the role of Group Executive, Safety, Technical and Projects, with a focus on maintaining the company’s longstanding commitment to safety, health and environment, while further building on the company’s efforts in technology and project delivery to support operational excellence in the years ahead, Rio said.

Both Toth and Davies will join the Rio Tinto Executive Committee on October 1, reporting to Chief Executive, J-S Jacques.

Toth, a dual Hungarian and Australian citizen, joined Rio Tinto in 2014 as Global Head of Strategy. In 2015, he became Head of Corporate Development with responsibility for corporate strategy (including climate strategy) and business development. He was the Chief Executive of ASX-listed OM Holdings, an integrated manganese and silicon company, between 2008 and 2014 and, prior to this, spent 14 years with BHP Billiton in a range of roles, including the Head of Marketing for carbon steel materials. He is based in London.

Davies, an Australian citizen, brings extensive international experience gained over 25 years with Rio Tinto in Australia, the US, the UK and Singapore, Rio says. He joined the company in 1995 as a senior mechanical engineer and has worked in various operational and functional leadership roles during this time. These include Chief Commercial Officer and interim CEO for the Iron and Titanium business unit, head of Group Risk and most recently, Vice President, Global Procurement. He will move to Brisbane.

J-S Jacques said: “We remain committed to strong performance, disciplined capital allocation and a focus on value over volume as we transform our business to make the most of future opportunities in an increasingly complex world. With Peter and Mark joining the executive team we will enhance our focus in areas that will be absolutely vital for Rio Tinto’s future performance and success – strategy, technology and climate change. I welcome them both to our team.

“As we welcome our new team members we also say goodbye to Steve, who has significantly contributed to our company over many decades. We are very grateful for his support and leadership in areas from exploration to innovation. We thank him for his commitment, and I wish Steve and his family all the very best for the future.”