MELBOURNE, Australia, Nov. 26, 2010 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX) -- Rio Tinto has announced a key strategic partnership in Canada, teaming with world leading researchers to create the Rio Tinto Centre for Underground Mine Construction.
The new Centre will be based at the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) in Sudbury, Ontario, and will focus on innovative rapid mine construction and ground control for mining at depth.
Rio Tinto is investing C$10 million over five years in the centre, completing a suite of five global long term Rio Tinto research centres around the world.
The work with CEMI will assist Rio Tinto's development of new excavation systems through The Mine of the Futureâ„¢ programme, focusing on significantly improving the construction and operation of underground mines.
As part of this programme, Rio Tinto will conduct a full scale performance verification trial in 2012 at Northparkes' copper and gold mine in New South Wales, Australia, as the first of three new underground excavation systems.
Rio Tinto Head of Innovation, John McGagh, said: "In order to satisfy the global demand for minerals we will need to go deeper to access new resources. By partnering with CEMI, Rio Tinto is supporting research into high speed underground mine construction.
"This collaboration is in keeping with our long term commitment to innovation. It's part of our strategy to collect the world's experts and develop mutually beneficial partnerships to develop technologies which address the future requirements of Rio Tinto. Put simply, there is no other mining operation in the world attempting to take the approach that we are on this scale."
CEMI President/CEO Doctor Peter K Kaiser said Rio Tinto's support would enable CEMI to collaborate with recognised researchers on ground control and machine performance issues.
"With test sites, possibly on three continents, it will be of strategic importance to strengthen collaborations with expertise beyond our boundaries," Dr Kaiser said.
"In collaboration with Rio Tinto, CEMI will be able to expand its research and development programmes and increase its global reach."
Rio Tinto General Manager Underground Innovation Dr Fred Delabbio said: "Our partnership with CEMI provides an opportunity to combine experts from the civil and mining industries.Â The Centre's research into high speed underground mine construction will include implementation of mechanised tunnelling and shaft sinking systems and CEMI will assist in the development of innovative support systems and in minimising the risks for such technologies."