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Rio Tinto backs WA innovators

rio tinto

Rio Tinto is partnering with start-up investor Founders Factory to fast-track the development and commercialisation of breakthrough technologies in the mining industry.

As part of the partnership, Rio will invest $14.4 million in global pre-seed and seed stage start-ups over the next three years. The focus will be on technologies in the fields of safe mine operations, decarbonisation, exploration processing and automation.

Each start-up will receive a cash investment and participate in a four-month accelerator program run by Founders Factory to support product development and commercialisation.

The Western Australian Government has also partnered with Founders Factory to invest in nature-tech start-ups that preserve and restore nature and biodiversity.

The partnerships with Rio Tinto and the WA Government will support the first Australian hub of Founders Factory in Perth, boosting the state’s innovation credentials. Founders Factory successfully operates in London, Johannesburg, Milan, Berlin, Bratislava, New York and Singapore.

“Technology has always been at the forefront of our industry and WA can be the Silicon Valley of the global mining industry,” Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Simon Trott said.

“Our iron ore operations in the Pilbara are among the most technologically advanced in the world. This exciting new partnership gives us the opportunity to build on our innovative legacy to unlock new technologies and help our business find better ways to provide the materials the world needs.

“With the backing of industry and the state government, local and international start-ups will receive investment opportunities and access to real-world testing and scaling support, helping WA’s innovation economy to grow.”

Foungers Factory chief executive officer (CEO) Henry Lane said the company was excited to be partnering with Rio and launching operations in WA.

“Startups can drive further productivity, safety and automation in the mining sector, whilst accelerating the industry’s transition to Net Zero.”

In its latest quarterly review, Rio Tinto reported an all injury frequency rate of 0.36, which the company said was in line with its previous quarter, and a slight increase on the same quarter in 2023.

Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm took a moment to acknowledge the plane crash near its Diavik diamond mine in Canada which tragically took the lives of six people.

“We have been deeply affected by the loss of four Diavik colleagues and two airline crew members in a plane crash in January,” he said.

“This tragedy has strengthened our resolve to never be complacent about safety.”

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