Category: Geo-News

Rio Tinto mines big data

Rio Tinto data centre (source: Rio Tinto photo library)

Rio Tinto data centre (source: Rio Tinto photo library)

Rio Tinto today announced that it will expand its mining operations beyond digging resources like iron ore, copper and coal out of the ground, to mining vast volumes of data too.

The company launched the Analytics Excellence Centre in Pune, India, to crunch massive amounts of data collected by sensors attached to equipment at its operations around the world.

“The Centre will help us predict the future through the use of advanced data analytic techniques to pinpoint with incredible accuracy the operating performance of our equipment,” explains Rio Tinto group executive for technology and innovation, Greg Lilleyman, in this media release.

“Our aim is to run more efficient, smarter and safer mining operations and provide greater shareholder returns.”

Data mining has been around for a while and is the process used to simplify and summarize data. This normally involves collecting and storing data in giant databases and then using powerful computers to search for patterns and anomalies. We can then make predictions about new situations based on what we learned from the data. (more…)

Salmon Sperm and Recycling REEs

2014-05-04 13.35.12What a quirky and exciting development for sustainability: a way to extract and recycle the rare earth elements we need for green technologies, like wind turbines.

It’s time to scrape that salmon semen off your plate, because it’s got a much better use than tickling your taste buds (yes, fish sperm is actually a delicacy in Japan). This unusual magical ingredient could help us extract and recycle rare earth elements from ore and a variety of other materials, such as magnets or old electronics. Not only would this process be significantly cheaper than traditional chemical extraction methods, but it’s also much better for the environment.

Read more: Salmon Sperm Could Help Us Recycle Rare Earth Elements | IFLScience.

Declining productivity is #1 risk to mining in 2014-15

EY-risk-radarTo reverse a decade-long decline in productivity, mining and metals companies need to implement whole-of-business solutions to recover lost ground. Increasing profits will be achieved by finding and retaining the best talent to build relationships with communities and stakeholders, and to see these sweeping changes through.

A risky business

Declining productivity, allocation of capital and social licence to operate have been identified as the top three risks to mining and metal businesses by Ernst and Young (EY) in their Business risks facing mining and metals 2014-2015 report released this week. (more…)

How to measure responsibility in mining

The mining industry has global standards for operations, production and health and safety, but few, if any, exist for the nebulous zone of social and environmental responsibility. Until now.

This week, the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) released a draft Standard for Responsible Mining for public comment, designed to improve social and environmental performance at mine sites. (more…)

Move over safety, it’s CSRs turn in the spotlight

Falun was mined for copper for over 1000 years

Falun was mined for copper for over 1000 years (Image: N. Williams)

Exploration and mining companies are better known for enormous holes in the ground and environmental disasters than their social and environmental efforts, but the industry is leading the way when it comes to increased corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Unfortunately they still have an image problem!

Many companies are struggling to communicate the social and environmental progress they have made as they carry out the necessary business of resource extraction. And they are confusing the very people they are trying to impress in the process – local communities. (more…)

A gold mine in my toilet

A gold mine?

A gold mine? (click for source)

Mines use billions of litres of water each year but with one billion people without clean drinking water and 2.5 billion lacking access to basic sanitation worldwide, doesn’t it seem preposterous to pour clean water down a mine?

Sending undrinkable domestic waste water and sea water to mine sites is a promising solution.

Read more about the use of recycled water in mining in From My Toilet To The Gold Mine, my latest piece published on the RiAus blog on 29 April 2014. (more…)

Is this the coolest job for a long hot summer?

Dr Alix Post in Antarctica

Dr Alix Post in Antarctica

While her family and friends are sweating through a record-breaking hot summer back in Canberra, Geoscience Australia marine geoscientist Dr Alix Post is wearing thermal underwear, woolly socks and insulated overalls to keep warm in Antarctica’s sub-zero temperatures. (more…)

Clean drinking water from clean mining?

DSC_5017While preparing last week’s post, where I explored the lengths we will go to mine rare earth elements, I came across a TED talk I’d like to share.

In Our race to find rare earths, from deep sea to the moon, I mentioned the possibility of using nanomaterials to recover precious minerals from seawater.

Research engineer Damian Palin has been working on a similar idea, but better: the ultimate win-win situation even the greenest mining opponent couldn’t object to! He’s developing a way to use bacteria to biologically “mine” minerals from water — specifically, out of the brine left over from the desalinization process. (more…)

Our race to find rare earths, from deep sea to the moon


Hundreds of kilos of REE neobium needed for magnets in wind turbines

Explorers are scouring the lands, racing to find new deposits of precious rare earth elements. But new supplies of these vital green technology metals might be found in less traditional mining locations, like deep below the sea and even out in space.

Putting the REE in gREEn technologies

Current supplies are barely enough to satisfy our insatiable thirst for rare earths (REE), a group of essential elements used in high-tech gadgets and sustainable green technologies. (more…)