Jacques floats new funding model

RIO Tinto CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques has called on miners to join the rest of the world in the 21st century and floated a radical funding model for new projects.
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L'optimiste: Jacques said governments could put more into mining projects and even fund them if they want a bigger share

Jacques says changes potentially coming with the aid of technology to the sector are not matched by the resources industry's culture.

"We need to reinvent ourselves," he said.

"We are an old industry and there is no doubt we have changed, and modernised - for example, to using automation and artificial intelligence. And we deserve credit for that.

"But we have not changed to the same extent that we have seen other industries reinvent themselves. The car industry - although, it took them some time to get there, aerospace, healthcare [and] media. I could go on and on."

Jacques said Rio was thinking far outside the box to avoid the massive spending needed for new major projects and bring in governments asking for more of a share of the profits. 

"If a community or government wants a bigger share of the pie, they may need to be willing to take on more of the risk, that's a really important part of our very capital intensive industry," he said.

"As an industry, perhaps, it is time to think about a different business model - where we provide mining as a service and let other people finance projects that need billions in upfront investment, before the benefits can be shared." 

Jacques, known for his plain-speaking, also called for the industry to get rid of jargon.

"We need to change our language and stop talking like technocrats and start talking in everyday language," he said.

"Less about ‘utilising automation' and more about ‘driving robots'. Less about our ‘optimising productivity' and more about ‘making our mines run better'."

The CEO admitted Rio was as bad as anyone with using jargon, although the company's most recent annual report used some form of ‘utilise' and ‘optimise' half as much as rival major BHP in its 2018 report.

Jacques was speaking at a conference in Melbourne, Australia.