Rio Tinto, in partnership with IT firm iGATE Patni, has opened a new innovation centre in Pune, India, to accelerate development of mining technologies globally in line with its Mine of the Future programme.

The Rio Tinto innovation centre (RTIC) will build automated technologies for mining operations and focus on disciplines such as image processing, advanced data mining and analytics, automation and control systems, and design and logistics.

iGATE Patni will provide Rio Tinto with engineering research and development services over a period of five years.

Rio Tinto head of Innovation John McGagh said the centre will help create business value in the mining industry.

"This partnership will enable us to move our innovations from concept stage to reality more efficiently. through the work of a dedicated team of specialised engineers," McGagh added.

"RTIC will allow us to take a specific technology developed at one of our centres of excellence, such as the mine automation system currently in use at our Pilbara iron ore operations in Western Australia, and adapt it for broader application across our network of mines."

The centre will also assist in providing industrial automation and control, software and embedded design and development, alongside general engineering services.

The partnership will base its work on established Rio Tinto centres in Australia, Canada and the UK.

Rio Tinto said the new centre will employ about 300 workers, including skilled engineers, to address the changing technological requirements from across the company’s operations.