OZ Minerals, Boliden and Rio Tinto agree to tailings innovation collaboration
OZ Minerals, Boliden and Rio Tinto will collaborate to unlock new and innovative technologies for managing tailings, helping the mining industry to further reduce risk while extracting the materials the world needs for the energy transition from what was previously regarded as ‘waste,' Rio Tinto said in a release.
Under the umbrella of the Think & Act Differently (TAD) incubator initiative, OZ Minerals, Boliden and Rio Tinto will fund and support innovators who are working to reimagine mining and processing to eliminate, minimize, reuse or find value in mine tailings. The three companies will also collaborate on other selected innovations to pursue improved productivity while delivering benefits such as lower emissions and reduced waste.
“We can accelerate technology much faster by working together and this is an example of how the industry can collaborate to support technology development,” Michelle Ash, OZ Minerals’ Technology Executive said. “We hope this way of working and supporting innovators provides a model that can be replicated because accelerated technology development is likely to have a positive impact on our industry and society.”
Joanna Lindahl, Boliden Mines’ Sustainability Director added, “By collaboration on generic challenges for the mining industry in a pre-competitive setting we will be able to make progress faster and more resource efficient. For the inventors and startup companies in the TAD incubator, it is also an excellent opportunity to get insights and business understanding from several different mining companies. We are very much looking forward for this collaboration and hope to find new opportunities to strengthen the industry in the future.”
“It isn’t very often that competitors come together to collaborate on industry-critical work,” said Mark Davies, Chief Technical Officer for Rio Tinto. “One such area historically has been Health, Safety & Environment, where we learned that sharing leading practices boosts our collective performance. We think collaborating on tailings management capability improvement could have a similar, industry-wide impact. We’re excited to be partnering with Boliden and OZ Minerals through the TAD program.”
The collaboration will support innovators by providing materials, funding, technical guidance and the potential for field trials at mine operations. Innovators will retain ownership of their intellectual property rights, with a license to use those rights granted to the companies that support them.
The mining and processing industry has many long-term tailings projects across the world. Tailings are residues created from mining, refining, smelting and water treatment processes.
The Think & Act Differently program, powered by OZ Minerals, works towards building an ecosystem of partners who will explore and accelerate themes that prioritize social and environmental responsibility for the development of the modern mine. Central to its success is the active participation of a network of people from across multiple industries, organizations, community groups, governments, research organizations and others who want to play a role in solving complex challenges.
Photo: A tailings facility in Australia. Shutterstock