Employee looking up at machinery

Pioneer Portal

Pioneer with us

We are looking for innovative solutions that will help us pioneer progress. We supply minerals and metals that are essential to everyday life, but we need to continue to innovate and evolve our practices.

We want your innovative ideas and solutions to some of our current business challenges. Whether you’re a start-up entrepreneur or an existing business, with small-scale ideas or proven solutions and technology. We know that we’re stronger when we work together.

Our Pioneer Portal gives you a platform to be heard and potentially deliver real value to our business.

Do you have an idea or technology that could transform the mining industry?

We are seeking out original ideas, from the unproven to those ready to deploy. Your idea should address a collaboration opportunity relevant to our business. In turn, we may support you with funding, laboratory and research space, professional coaching, access to operations, or if it is a product purchase.

Process

Here’s what will happen once you submit your idea:

  • You will receive an email confirmation acknowledging receipt
  • Your idea is posted onto our internal social networking platform for open review and further reviewed by our expert panel (who reviews submissions monthly)
  • You will receive an email with an update or decision
  • If we choose to proceed further with your idea, we will assign you a key contact to progress

This process can take up to two months.

What you'll need to provide 

Whether you are providing a solution for one of our current business challenges or sharing your own technology, here is what you will need to provide when submitting your idea:

  • Pitch details

    Brief description of the idea, solution or product, including:

    • Problem to be solved
    • How the solution solves this problem
    • What differentiates this from other solutions
  • Value proposition

    What is considered to be the potential value to Rio Tinto if the idea is fully developed? This may relate to our business priorities - Safety, People, Cash, Growth and Partnerships.

  • Business uses

    How would this solution be deployed, including:

    • Where could we benefit from this
    • Time taken to realise the benefits
    • The plan for deployment
  • Status

    What is the product status of your solution, including:

    • Standard off-the-shelf product status
    • Development requirements
    • Patents etc
  • Expectations

    What support from us or expectations are you looking for? That is:

    • Direct purchase
    • Development cooperation/partnership
    • Site access
    • Access to subject matter experts

    In return, what will you provide?

  • Supporting documents

    Please provide any materials that could support your submission.

Download the Submissions Guide

Our past successes

Resolution, US

Keeping cool 2km underground

Resolution Copper Project, Arizona, US

It’s almost two kilometres to the bottom of Resolution Copper’s mine shafts. At these depths, temperatures can reach around 80°C.

More

Working in these temperatures requires continuous cooling supplied through huge ventilation systems – and these giant air conditioners require a lot of electricity to run. To help reduce carbon emissions, the Resolution Copper team sought a solution to capture and use the energy created by latent heat sources like underground water.

More than 20 companies contributed a range of possible solutions, ranging from early-stage developments to off-the-shelf products. These included absorption coolers, which use heat from air and water to produce cool air – like a refrigerator; using geothermal heat to create electricity to run the air conditioners; and converting solar energy from the surface to power the air conditioners below the ground.

The Resolution Copper project is now working with two companies to further investigate possible solutions. Our Energy and Climate Change teams are looking at how other proposed solutions could be used more broadly across Rio Tinto.

Extending the life of carbon anodes

Bell Bay Aluminium, Tasmania, Australia

Aluminium is made using a process where carbon anodes create a chemical reaction, changing alumina into the shiny, lightweight metal used in everything from food packaging to cars. Through the smelting process, the carbon anodes are consumed.

Anode

More

For many years our Bell Bay aluminium operation has been pioneering a coating for carbon anodes to help reduce consumption, and therefore waste. Through the Pioneer Portal, the team sought a world-first solution to automatically apply their protective coating on baked carbon anodes.

Companies offered solutions ranging from immersion to spraying. The Bell Bay team is now working with a company to introduce robotic manufacturing technologies – like those used in the automotive industry – to apply the protective coating on their anodes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I submit my innovation for consideration by Rio Tinto?

    Whether you are an individual inventor, or represent a small business or listed company, after submitting your idea, a mail response will acknowledge your submission and you will be contacted by us again within two months.

  • What kind of information does Rio Tinto need in your submission?

    We need:

    • A clear, concise description that conveys the nature of the innovation
    • The unique features and benefits it offers relative to existing solutions
    • The status of your intellectual property

    Supporting documents can be attached when completing the form. Please remember that all information submitted must be non-confidential.

    For more information, please refer to the 'What you'll need to provide' section higher on this page.

  • My innovation is neither patented nor patent-pending. May I still submit?

    Patents and other forms of intellectual property are used to establish ownership and protect the legal rights of the owners of various kinds of innovations and works. For your own protection and ours, we may decline to review your open innovation submission if it appears to lack intellectual property protection.

    We cannot advise you on if you should pursue a patent, design or other form of intellectual property protection. For more information regarding the nature of intellectual property and its uses, you may wish to consult your legal representative or appropriate government agencies.

  • Will Rio Tinto sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before I share my innovation?

    Please first describe your innovation without disclosing any confidential information. If we have interest in learning more, we will contact you to establish the necessary agreements.

  • How can I arrange to present my innovation in person?

    Our initial review is based wholly on the non-confidential information you provide in your open innovation submission. Face-to-face meetings, phone conferences, or live demonstrations are not usually required at this stage.

    It can take up to two months for our initial review to be carried out. If we need additional information during that period, we will contact you.

    We therefore ask that you be patient and not contact us about your submission.

  • Who will review my submission and how long will the review take? 

    Each innovation is posted onto our internal social networking tool, Yammer, for open review by the Rio Tinto community. Additionally, these are reviewed by an expert panel who determines how to route it to ensure it reaches the relevant people within our company. In many cases, this can mean review by several parts of the organisation to evaluate technical merit or strategic business fit for us.

    We are committed to reaching a decision as quickly as possible, however a thorough initial review, especially of a technological innovation, may take up to two months to complete.

  • If Rio Tinto is interested in my submission, how much will I be paid for it?

    Compensation is an important component of any business transaction. The value of an idea will be determined in discussions between Rio Tinto and the party which controls the rights to the intellectual property and its practice. Each property is therefore evaluated on its own merits and as a result, there is no standard amount.

  • What type of business relationship with Rio Tinto could result from my submission?

    This could take a variety of forms, depending upon the specifics of the innovation and both the potential partner's and our needs, including a licensing or supply agreement, or other type of collaborative venture.

  • For what reasons might Rio Tinto decline to pursue my submission?

    We understand that those submitting to the open innovation portal desire feedback, including the reasons why we may decide to decline an opportunity. However, we are usually not at liberty to give detailed reasons. Generally speaking, submissions are most often declined for one or more of the following reasons:

    • The proposed solution is already known to us
    • We already have work in progress in the area covered by the submission
    • The opportunity is not a strategic match with where we want to take our business or brands
    • The size of the opportunity does not fit with our business plans
    • There is a lack of protected intellectual property associated with the submission
  • What does Rio Tinto do with personal information that I provide with my open innovation portal registration? 

    Rio Tinto will use this information to communicate with you about your submission. It will not be used for any other purpose, nor will it shared with any third party.

Disclaimer

  • About your submission

    We encourage you to include proof points or evidence that can help to provide us with confidence in the feasibility and effectiveness of your solution or concept, and to recommend a course of action.

    We may elect to proceed with any, all or none of the submissions. Similarly, there could be aspects of your solution that could work with other solutions, hence consider whether you would be willing to work with other third parties. This will be discussed on an individual basis.

    Please submit via the form on the Pioneer Portal and ensure that you agree to the Terms and Conditions.

    For further clarification email pioneerportal@riotinto.com.

  • Disclaimer

    All information or advice provided as part of this website is intended to be general in nature. Rio Tinto is not liable for any action you may take as a result of relying on such information or advice or for any loss or damage suffered by you as a result of you taking this action.

    By submitting any ideas or other material you agree that Rio Tinto does not have any duty to treat such ideas or other material as confidential even when such ideas or other material are marked as or referred to by you as confidential.

    By submitting your proposal you agree with the above and confirm having read and agreed to our Terms and Conditions and privacy notice.