Rio Tinto will launch a new three dimensional (3D) mapping technology, RTVis, to improve productivity and reduce costs at its mines.

The initiative is part of Rio’s mine of the future programme.

By using the technology, the company will be able to accurately identify the size, location and quality of ore in real time by retrieving data from automated trucks and drills operating in the mines.

The RTVis 3D software generates 3D images of the mining area and directs workers to remove high-value ore only, reducing both time and operational costs.

In addition, it gives quick feedback in the event of any impact to equipment and gives a clear picture about the nature of the ore deposit at an earlier stage of the process.

Rio Tinto innovation head John McGagh said: "This technology allows us to quickly and easily view, compare and evaluate data to paint a picture of what’s under the ground. It is like an ultrasound image of the deposit delivered in real time, something that we could never do before.

"Our operations to recover the ore bodies will be significantly more efficient and effective."

"RTVis is a low-cost application that complements existing group-wide data technology in a way previously never available to enhance our mining operations. It quickly brings information to a much broader audience, from a single operator in the field to an expert team in the Rio Tinto operations centre in Perth.

"Armed with this detailed information, our operations to recover the ore bodies will be significantly more efficient and effective."

The latest technology is currently deployed at Rio’s West Angelas iron ore mine in Western Australia, with plans to test the software with its other product groups such as copper, energy, diamonds and minerals.

Rio Tinto is showcasing the RTVis at the ongoing International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne, Australia, from 22 to 26 September.

Image: The RTVis 3D software is deployed at Rio Tinto’s West Angelas iron ore mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Photo: courtesy of Rio Tinto.