Working smarter from mine to market

Rio Tinto is developing smarter ways of working to remain sustainable, competitive and positioned for growth.

While we can’t control commodity markets, we can control what we do every day and improve performance throughout our business.

This means ensuring the time and effort of every person – and our machines, plant and infrastructure – are used in efficient and productive ways. Importantly, better operations are also safer operations.

Productivity at Rio Tinto is also about fostering a culture of improvement where we constantly challenge ourselves and look at leading practices from outside our industry.

Through these approaches, we will make US$5 billion in extra free cash flow in the five years to 2021.



increase in average haul truck load in 2017

Where our approach makes a difference

Productivity at Rio Tinto starts with exploration and continues through the study of our orebodies, construction, operation of our assets and marketing of our products, and, ultimately, closure.

One of our biggest improvement opportunities is in safely maximising truck payload. Payload is what a truck carries on every loaded trip that it makes.

On a typical day, our trucks perform nearly 25,000 hauls. We've been working closely with our truck, loading equipment and tyre suppliers to safely increase the load carried on each trip. In 2017 we increased the average load 6 per cent and we have plans to increase this a further 10 per cent.

At the Amrun bauxite project in Australia, we've applied techniques from the oil and gas industry to prefabricate construction modules for the export wharf. This eliminated more than 300,000 hours of work over water, was faster and more cost effective.

Driving efficiency

Small improvements can deliver huge gains.

In the Copper & Diamonds business, the Rio Tinto Kennecott team has started a three-year pilot programme to improve the payload capacity of haul trucks operating at the Bingham Canyon copper mine.

Each of Kennecott's 87 haul trucks is about the size of a two-storey house, and can carry around 290 tonnes of material. When it came time to replace the trucks' beds – the part of the truck that carries the copper ore from the open pit – the team worked with two suppliers to engineer a lighter structure that reduces wear and tear on the trucks, and increases their payload capacity.

The six trucks in the pilot programme are already proving successful. Initial trial data has showed a six per cent improvement in payload capacity, equating to an additional 160,000 tonnes per year for each truck.

Driving productivity across the business

We’re focusing on five priority areas to achieve our productivity target:

  • Optimising mine planning and the use of our orebodies
  • Improving the utilisation of our mining equipment and vehicle fleet
  • Boosting performance and recovery in our processing plants
  • Enhancing the efficiency of our energy systems, rail networks and ports
  • Optimising the capacity of our assets

Across our business, specialists in operational and technical disciplines are replicating leading practices and freeing up employees to focus on other work that benefits our business and our partners.

We’re also making productivity gains through automation, stronger partnerships and data and technology that enable our people to make smarter decisions.

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