Rio Tinto denies drone surveillance allegations

Rio Tinto has rejected claims that it has used drones to monitor employees at company work camps.

In March, Rio awarded a 10-year facilities management contract to Sodexo across its operations and accommodation sites. This includes expanded surveillance at its Pilbara assets through a system that live streams information to a monitoring hub in Perth, according to The Guardian.

Keith Weston, Sodexo vice president for mining global sales and business development, and the project manager, said the surveillance would provide “real time insights and metrics on equipment and people movement”.

“Our goal is to get to the point where we can capture individual insights on where employees are spending their time and money and improve the quality of their lives.”

Weston went on to say they planned to add sensors to bins and light poles, and had begun plans to experiment with drones.

However, a Sodexo spokesperson later said they do not use drones at any of their sites in the Pilbara. They added that any comments made of future technologies were “conceptual only and there are no intentions to introduce any of these concepts to Rio Tinto sites.”

Rio Tinto further rejected the allegations of the use of drones.

Vice president of human resources Nicky Firth told employees in an email, “We do not, nor will we in future, use drones to monitor employees on any of our sites or premises.”

“This concept has never been proposed and there is no provision in the contract with Sodexo for this form of activity.”

Last month, Rio announced it will be cutting jobs from its iron ore division in WA, with an estimated 500 jobs to be lost.