Anglo-Australian mining firm Rio Tinto, copper miner OZ Minerals and Sweden-based metals firm Boliden have agreed to partner on developing new solutions to manage tailings in the mining and processing industry.

Tailings are residues produced as a result of mining, refining, smelting and water treatment processes.

Under the umbrella of the Think & Act Differently (TAD) incubator initiative, the three companies will fund and support innovators seeking to reimagine mining and processing to remove, minimise or find value in or reuse mines’ tailings.

The firms will also join forces on other selected innovations to enhance productivity at the mines while cutting down emissions and waste.  

OZ Minerals technology executive Michelle Ash said: “We hope this way of working and supporting innovators provides a model that can be replicated because accelerated technology development is likely to have a positive impact on our industry and society.”

The partnership will help innovators with financing, materials, technical assistance as well as the potential for field trials at mining operations.

Innovators will continue to hold ownership of their intellectual property rights.

Boliden Mines sustainability director Joanna Lindahl said: “By collaboration on generic challenges for the mining industry in a pre-competitive setting, we will be able to make progress faster and more resource efficient.

“For the inventors and startup companies in the TAD incubator, it is also an excellent opportunity to get insights and business understanding from several different mining companies.”

Powered by OZ Minerals, the Think & Act Differently programme aims to build an ecosystem of partners who focus on modern mine development while focusing on social and environmental responsibility.