Mining major Rio Tinto will make a significant investment in a joint venture with British company Endava aiming to “create an in-house, software development team of more than 500 … [to help] drive the next stage” of its growth. The venture will start in Brisbane, Queensland, one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated existing mining software hubs.
The broader Australian mining software ecosystem is among the most advanced worldwide, employing thousands of software developers. Companies in the sector have been repeatedly targeted over the past 20 years by offshore acquirers, including leading international tech companies, private equity groups and multi-national mining equipment manufacturers.
“Our view would be that Australia produces or is responsible in some way for probably 50% of the innovation that goes on in the global mining technology space,” the head of investment at a large private equity group told InvestMETS this week.
Rio Tinto, which earned nearly US$38 billion last year from iron ore, copper, aluminium and other minerals, is “also a technology company”, according to chief information officer, Dan Evans.
“Developing in-house product software development capability will be core to accelerating our digital transformation,” he said.
“We are a mining and metals company, but if you look at our autonomous trucks and drills, remote operations centres, advanced process automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence, there’s no doubt that we are also a technology company.
“With the rapid evolution of digital technology and incredible volume of data generated every minute across our global operations and offices, we want to improve how we integrate data and technology across the value chain to enable rapid insights and decision-making to improve safety, productivity and value.”
Endava, a British public-listed software company established in 2000, listed 38 of its 11,853 employees in the APAC region at the end of June this year.
“We have a wealth of experience in this [mining] space,” Endava’s managing director, Australia, Steve Harding, said in a joint statement by the two companies.
“By investing in longer-term partnerships, we are able to support organisations like Rio Tinto to deliver digital improvements and become the leaders in cutting-edge technology for the mining industry.”