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Q&A: Rio Tinto’s Warrick Ranson, Head of Productivity Development, Technology and Innovation

Warrick Ranson, Head of Productivity Development, Technology and Innovation at Rio Tinto is theopening Keynote speaker at Austmine's streamat the IM...

|Aug 3|magazine11 min read

Warrick Ranson, Head of Productivity Development, Technology and Innovation at Rio Tinto is the opening Keynote speaker at Austmine's stream at the IMARC 2015 conference in Melbourne on 10 - 12 November.

In advance of the event, Austmine caught up with Warrick to get his insights into some critical issues facing both miners and mining equipment, technology and service providers (METS) in the current market environment.

Why does Rio Tinto feel so passionately about industry collaboration between miners and mining equipment, technology and service providers?

At Rio Tinto, collaboration is fundamental in driving some of the technology initiatives that are moving our industry forward. Our innovation focus incorporates new ideas and ways to drive productivity through creating and adapting new and existing technologies. We cannot do this without our technology partners and service providers – we are a strong believer in the ‘not invented here’ approach. 

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In March last year we opened our Excellence Centre in Brisbane. In conjunction with our process engineers, analytics teams and external partners we are now able to examine real-time plant data to provide expert solution to operations.

Another example of successful collaboration is with the University of Sydney where we focus on mine automation with one of the world’s largest privately funded external robotics initiatives. Through this collaboration we are able to capitalize on initiatives being applied in industries such as manufacturing, aerospace and logistics.

Where do you see the best opportunity for improved collaboration within the industry?

The foundation to Rio Tinto’s success as one of the biggest mining companies in the world is our people. Technology is nothing without the people who develop, test and operate it. We need to collectively think about our approach to identifying, harnessing, developing and retaining core skills required to efficiently and effectively run mining operations--both now and for future generations. Education is fundamental when it comes to developing expertise and we need to work collaboratively with our academic partners to ensure graduates are industry-ready, particularly as we continue to introduce new technologies.

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How can we as a sector better incorporate research and development institutions into the entire mining innovation value chain?

Rio Tinto has been a strong supporter of world class research institutions. However, the sector needs to remain agile to respond to the highs and lows of our industries cycles. Research and development facilities tend to be models of stability, entering into longer term partnerships. Shorter term partnerships and more flexible models would better assist the mining value chain.

Why are conferences such as IMARC 2015 imperative to furthering sector collaboration?

Conferences such as IMARC create an environment for bringing together prominent cross-sector stakeholders. These conferences give us the opportunity to share our story and ultimately encourage collaboration within the sector.

Warrick will be speaking in the Austmine conference stream at IMARC on "Driving Productivity through Strategic Partnerships". Also speaking in the Austmine stream are Newcrest, Gold Fields, PanAust, Glencore, Mandalay Resources, MMG, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Sandvik, Sedgman and more.

Previously posted on Austmine.com.au

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