Rio Tinto co-builds ‘Silicon Valley of mining’ in WA

Rio Tinto autonomous haulage trucks at West Angelas mine site in WA. Credits: Christian Sprogoe Photography

Rio Tinto has backed the Western Australian Government’s election commitment and first-ever strategy for enhancing the state’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) capabilities.

This skills strategy is targeted to “keep jobs in WA” and focuses on every Western Australian, more than just workers in STEM-related jobs.

Launched at Rio Tinto’s operations centre in Perth, the McGowan Government has committed more than $3.3 million to kick-start this strategy.

The government funding will also benefit over 1000 teachers in lower socioeconomic public schools via a four-year professional learning program.

“Seventy-five per cent of the fastest growing jobs require STEM skills and STEM jobs are growing at one and a half times the rate of non-STEM jobs,” WA Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery said.

“If we can get our education, training and policy ahead of the game during this time of rapid change, we can maximise the creation of WA jobs and create a bright future for all.”

A core objective of the skills strategy is to address the lack of diversity in STEM education and STEM related careers.

Women represent just 16 per cent of STEM qualified people in Australia, and Aboriginal people less than one per cent of higher education engineering and science students.

The strategy will include mentoring programs, digital and technology programs and the development of a STEM communication campaign.

“WA’s mining industry is leading the way in innovation and we have the opportunity to create the Silicon Valley of mining right here in Western Australia,” Rio Tinto managing director of planning, integration and assets Matthew Holcz said.

“We believe enhancing STEM capabilities will provide a bridge to new jobs, new skills and help deliver sustainable growth as the resources industry evolves.”