PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Diversified miner Rio Tinto has called for a reinvention of the resources industry, in order to fit into a modern world.
Speaking at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Melbourne, Rio CEO Jean-Sebastian Jacques said on Tuesday that the resource industry’s vision had to be fundamentally different than that of 50 years ago, in a world where cars drive themselves, machines were faster than humans, and where there would be more than 7.5-billion people in the world.
“We need to reinvent ourselves. I’ve mentioned this a few times already, but this is key. We are an old industry and there is no doubt we have changed and modernised, and we deserve credit for that. But we have not changed to the same extent that we have seen other industries reinvent themselves,” Jacques said.
He noted that this need for reinvention was particularly important in the face of decisions by major global companies to recycle metals and minerals that go into their products.
“What does this mean for our industry? This may mean we need to pioneer new ways to mine or think seriously about our business models at some point in the future. There’s no question. This will be difficult, and it will take a long time and as the saying goes, we will need to break a lot of eggs to make the omelette.”
Jacques said that digital and data would also be a “fundamental game changer” for the resources sector, with technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) forcing the sector to become more imaginative.
“In our view, digital and data will touch every part of the industry’s value chain, from exploration to marketing, and re-shape the way we work.”
“The challenge for us is how to apply AI and IoT in an industry where the introduction of new technology has often meant big capital outlays. And, clearly we are not going to get out of bed tomorrow and become Microsoft, or another software company. That isn’t the point. The point is how do we move into the digital age in a way that means we retain a competitive advantage.
“The key to this is to start small, with technology and digital pilots and scale up, and also more fundamentally, adopt a brand new spirit of partnership.”