Rio Tinto opens new hi-tech operations centre in Perth to control Pilbara mines

Anglo-Australian miner, Rio Tinto has opened a new hi-tech operations centre in Perth to control its huge mining operations in Pilbara located more than 1,500 km away.

The new high-technology operations centre built at a cost of $60 million and located next to Perth's domestic airport will now be the primary control centre for Rio Tinto's vast network of mines, rail systems, infrastructure facilities and port operations in the Pilbara.

The operations centre features 200 controllers and schedulers and more than 230 technical planning and support staff, using cutting-edge networks that ensure all Pilbara operations up to 1,500kms away are not only controlled from Perth, but can be performed with the maximum efficiency.

"There is no other mining operation anywhere in the world attempting this on this scale. Our driverless trucks, remotely operated drill and blasting, automated train systems and remote train loading functions are just the start of a revolution that is transforming the way we extract value from our resources, and will result in a far better, safer industry than could have been imagined even a decade ago," said Sam Walsh, Rio Tinto's chief executive.

The operations centre will assist Rio Tinto not only retain workers, but enable them to do far more complex and valuable work than traditional mining practices.

The Pilbara is Rio Tinto's largest iron ore operations having12 iron ore mines with an annual capacity of 220 million tonnes. It also has three shipping terminals and the largest privately owned heavy freight rail network in Australia.