Rio Tinto backs WA Government’s plan to strengthen STEM capabilities

28 May 2019

Rio Tinto today welcomed the delivery of Western Australia’s first strategy to enhance the State’s capabilities in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) which was officially launched at the company’s Operations Centre in Perth.

Rio Tinto actively participated in the development of the strategy and strongly supports the State Government’s five-pillar approach to building STEM capabilities throughout Western Australia.

The company is committed to promoting STEM disciplines to its workforce and the community and has put in place a range of programmes and initiatives aligned with the Government’s approach.

Speaking at the strategy’s launch at the Operations Centre, Minister for Science Hon. Dave Kelly said "One of the priorities for this government is ensuring all Western Australians have the opportunity to develop STEM skills and participate in the jobs of the future that will drive our economy.

"Technological change, automation and a diversifying economy mean that every Western Australian needs some level of STEM skills, not just workers in STEM related jobs. 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."

Rio Tinto managing director of Planning, Integration & Assets Matthew Holcz, said "As an organisation focused on technology and innovation, we recognise that an increased emphasis on STEM education is critical for our future. Today, almost all our people work alongside technology in some way and given the rapid pace of innovation and digitisation, this will only increase in future years.   

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

"We are supporting our workforce to prepare for the future in many ways and have a strong track record of reskilling and upskilling programs with a STEM focus. We congratulate the WA Government for delivering what we believe is an essential blueprint for strengthening the State’s STEM capabilities."

In October 2017 Rio Tinto announced a commitment of up to A$2 million to work in partnership with the West Australian government and South Metropolitan TAFE to develop the first nationally recognised Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications in Automation. A cross-industry collaboration group, inclusive of a range of mining industry peers, was established last year and is progressing well. The new certificate courses will be the first to provide education pathways to jobs in the area of autonomous operations.

Notes to editors

Rio Tinto was a member of the State’s STEM Advisory Panel which comprised representatives from across industry, community engagement, vocational education and training, school education and universities.

Rio Tinto’s commitment to STEM is also reflected in its investment in trainees, apprentices and graduates who pursue a range of STEM related pathways throughout the business. Rio Tinto is also actively supporting STEM pathways with long-term partners including The University of Western Australia, SciTech, and The Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation.

Within these partnerships, Rio Tinto has sought to address the under representation of Indigenous peoples and women in STEM-related fields. In partnership with UWA, the company supports the Girls in Engineering programme which enables year 7-10 students and their teachers to experience STEM with hands-on activities in the classroom. Rio Tinto has also partnered with The Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation on STEM Centres in the Pilbara and most recently opened the Karratha STEM Centre which provides opportunities for primary school students in years 4-6 to participate in STEM activities.

Rio Tinto’s Operations Centre is the nerve centre of Rio Tinto’s autonomous operation with around 400 people monitoring the company’s Pilbara operations in real time. The company’s fleet of autonomous trucks, drills and its world-first autonomous heavy-haul train project, AutoHaul, are all monitored from the Operations Centre, 1,500 kilometres from the Pilbara.