Rio Tinto and Atlas Copco announce autonomous drilling alliance

18 September 2008

Rio Tinto and Atlas Copco announce autonomous drilling alliance

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Rio Tinto and Atlas Copco have formed an alliance to work together to develop autonomous drilling solutions for surface mining.

Rio Tinto has a substantial programme in place to develop automated systems for its surface mining operations which create safer and more efficient operations.

Atlas Copco is a world leader in the manufacture and support of drills used in the mining and civil industries. The company has an extensive range of drills used in these industries and has significant experience in automating drill functions; particularly on its underground drill product lines.

This alliance of compatible interests will accelerate the development and deployment of autonomous drilling solutions for the surface mining industry. Benefits resulting from automating drills include improved operator safety, higher precision of the drilling process and improved equipment reliability resulting in superior performance.

Tom Albanese, chief executive of Rio Tinto said: “Rio Tinto is changing the face of mining. This partnership will help us to increase our lead on the rest of the mining industry and establish our position as the global leader in fully integrated, automated operations.”

“Atlas Copco is a world leader in the manufacture and support of drills used in the mining and civil industries and is the perfect partner for Rio Tinto as we lead the charge to develop the next generation of mining technologies. This development will allow for more efficient operations, delivering more tonnes, faster, with reduced carbon emissions, low costs and a safer working environment.”

Gunnar Brock, chief executive of Atlas Copco, commented: “Atlas Copco has always been at the forefront of rock drilling technology, a position we have achieved by always working close to our customers, and there are numerous examples, including civil construction, rapid and precise tunnelling and production drilling for underground mines, with results now used through out the world.”

“The surface and underground mining industries are moving faster towards automation and control technologies to increase safety and to deliver greater speed and productivity. Automation and its support is becoming an increasingly important aspect of Atlas Copco’s global business, and we look forward to a very productive cooperation with Rio Tinto for the benefit of both parties and the whole mining industry.”

About Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Rio Tinto's business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe and southern Africa.

For further information, please contact:

Rio Tinto Media Relations, London
Christina Mills
Office: +44 (0) 20 8080 1306
Mobile: +44 (0) 7825 275 605
Nick Cobban
Office: +44 (0) 20 8080 1305
Mobile: +44 (0) 7920 041 003

Media Relations, Australia
Ian Head
Office: +61 (0) 3 9283 3620
Mobile: +61 (0) 408 360 101

Media Relations, Americas
Nancy Ives
Mobile: +1 619 540 3751

Investor Relations, London
Nigel Jones
Office: +44 (0) 20 7781 2049
Mobile: +44 (0) 7917 227365
David Ovington
Office: +44 (0) 20 7781 2051
Mobile: +44 (0) 7920 010 978

Investor Relations, North America
Jason Combes
Office: +1 (0) 801 685 4535
Mobile: +1 (0) 801 558 2645

Investor Relations, Australia
Dave Skinner
Office: +61 (0) 3 9283 3628
Mobile: +61 (0) 408 335 309
Simon Ellinor
Office: +61 (0) 7 3867 1607
Mobile: +61 (0) 439 102 811

Atlas CopCo Media Relations
Bjorn Rosengren,
Senior Executive Vice President and Business Area President Construction and Mining Technique:
Office:+46 70 417 8502

Email: questions@riotinto.com

Website: www.riotinto.com
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