Rio Tinto has launched a new phase of its industry-leading Mine of the Future technology and innovation programme that is driving greater value by optimising the performance of key international copper and coal operations.

The Processing Excellence Centre (PEC) in Brisbane, Australia is a world-first, state-of-the-art facility that enhances monitoring and operational performance by examining in real time processing data from seven Rio Tinto operations spread across the globe.

An expert mineral processing team operating out of the PEC shares technical initiatives and solutions to colleagues on mine sites in Mongolia, the United States and Australia about how to maximise productivity and improve performance.

With the aid of a giant interactive screen, technical data is monitored and analysed in real time, allowing processing improvements to be immediately introduced and operational performance to be optimised. A trial phase of the PEC has already led to various procedural enhancements, such as adjusting the flotation process which increased the recovery of copper and gold at Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia.

Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh, who today officially opened the PEC, said “The Processing Excellence Centre marks another important step in the rollout of our exciting Mine of the Future programme.

“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. 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 “This ground-breaking facility allows us 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.

“The PEC provides significant capability to the business by drawing on a global network of industry experts from operations, suppliers, and consultants.”

The PEC is linked to copper processing at Oyu Tolgoi and Rio Tinto Kennecott in the United States as well as five coal sites in Australia.

Rio Tinto has been working with JKTech, Schneider Electric, Metso CISA, iGATE and The University of Queensland through the Rio Tinto Centre for Advanced Mineral Sorting to develop the Centre.