Global mining giant Rio Tinto has entered into an innovation partnership with IT firm iGate Patni for developing next-generation technologies and expects to invest up to $80 million towards this initiative.
Rio Tinto expects to spend around $60 million to $80 million over the next five years on this partnership, both the companies said in a joint statement.
The partnership would work towards improving mining processes that include unprecedented levels in automation, and remote operations that will revolutionise the way mining has been conducted so far, it added.
Rio Tinto also inaugurated an innovation center in iGate Patni's facility in Pune -- the Rio Tinto Innovation Centre (RTIC) -- which will play a crucial role in facilitating and leveraging these next generation automated technologies.
"With Rio Tinto and iGate Patni having invested close to $3 million in the infrastructure for the RTIC, we are geared to partnering with Rio Tinto in achieving its vision of providing unprecedented automation in mining," iGate Patni Chief Executive Officer Phaneesh Murthy said.
The innovation center will have about 300 engineers focusing on disciplines such as image processing, advanced data mining and analytics, automation and control systems, human factors design and logistics, the statement said.
"RTIC will allow us to take a specific technology developed at our Centres of Excellence, such as the mine automation system currently in use at our Pilbara iron ore operations in Western Australia, and adapt it for broader application across our network of mines," Rio Tinto head of Innovation John McGagh said.
Rio Tinto group operates five driverless iron ore haulage trucks in the Pilbara region. The group also planning a $518 million investment in autonomous trains for the Pilbara iron ore rail network in Western Australia; and the testing and developing of new technologies in underground tunnelling and mineral recovery.