BHP’s next CEO to take tech to the next level

BHP chief executive Mike Henry. Image: BHP

Mike Henry has placed technology front and centre in his first speech as chief executive officer to-be at BHP.

Speaking at Perth’s Resources Technology Showcase yesterday, Henry said superior tech application and innovation was one way for the world’s biggest miner to stay at the forefront of the global industry.

Henry, who will take over from Andrew Mackenzie as CEO next year, has witnessed the same approach at other leading resources companies, including Woodside, Rio Tinto, South32 and Fortescue Metals Group. They have used technology to connect people, according to Henry.

“The opportunities are there for those who case them. Part of staying at the forefront of the global industry and value creation, must be being able to innovate and apply technology better than others,” Henry said.

“This is a significant focus at BHP. This will enable us to keep our people safe, reduce costs, improve reliability and increase our capital efficiency. It will enable us to reduce our impact on the environment and it will give rise to more fulfilling jobs.”

BHP established its first fully autonomous haulage system at its Jimblebar mine in Western Australia in 2017. The initiative significantly reduced incidents with fatal potential and lowered costs, according to Henry.

The company has the same aspirations for BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA)’s Goonyella Riverside coal mine in Queensland. BMA will convert a fleet of up to 86 Komatsu trucks over the next two years starting from 2020.

“You only have to cast your eyes up north to BHP’s Innovation Centre at Eastern Ridge to see what’s being made possible through technology,” Henry said.

“This is BHP’s testing centre – our proving ground for new technologies that we then export all over the world to BHP’s global operations, from right here in Western Australia.”

This includes an industrial Internet of Things sensor gateway, which collects data from sensors on BHP mobile and fixed plant equipment such as trucks and drills.

A different team will exploit the rich data to make maintenance safer and more efficient. It only took 16 weeks to turn the technology from concept to first prototype.

BHP is also using some of its offshore petroleum practices to identify ways to increase safety at onshore mining operations.

“Whether it’s automated haulage, robotics, drones, big data or artificial intelligence – we are changing the way we work,” Henry said.

“Today technology has helped to make us safer, more predictable and more focused than ever before. However, there is potential is so much greater. The opportunities abound.”

Henry will advance BHP’s technology ambitions by collaborating with the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector.

He also plans to spend the next six weeks travelling to BHP’s operations and offices globally.

“I am committed to partnering with others to help make BHP safer and to take performance to the next level,” Henry said.

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