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‘It sort of has to be’: Rio Tinto reveals strong profit but acts to remove human element

Rio Tinto have announced a strong first half-net profit and admit they’re moving to minimise the human element.

Australia’s second largest mining company has announced underlying earnings are up by 12 per cent, with net profit jumping by 33 per cent.

Recovering commodity prices have assisted the results but the company’s move to improve productivity and make their operations more autonomous is also a factor.

Autonomous drilling systems are already part of the mining landscape and over the past six months, Rio Tinto has been rolling out self-driving trains in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

Rio Tinto’s Chief Financial Officer Chris Lynch tells Ross Greenwood this is where mining is headed.

“It sort of has to be, Ross.

“We ran out first fully-loaded, fully autonomous trains during the first-half and we expect we can run the entire system on that autonomous mode by the end of this year.”

Mr Lynch says it’s crucial for the mining giant’s direction.

“The autonomous trains don’t need toilet breaks, they don’t need meal breaks. You can run them closer together eventually.

“You’d have that belt fuller for more periods of time.”

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Mr Lynch says the company’s current balance sheet is “very robust”, and there is plenty of capacity to take hold of opportunities with both hands.