WA has the opportunity to cement a place as the world epicentre of resource technology and innovation, according to BHP chief executive-elect Mike Henry.
Mr Henry, speaking on the first day of the Resources Technology Showcase in Perth today, said technology was critical to the resources industry.
“WA can cement its place as a leading hub for the development and provision of innovative technology and service solutions for the global resources industry,” he said.
“Given the significance of WA to the world when it comes to resources and the significance of resources to WA, it is only fitting that it become the location for a world fair of resources technology.”
The new head of the world’s largest miner outlined to the 500 delegates that WA provides the iron ore that goes into the steel that builds schools, bridges, homes and vehicles, providing the foundation for economic growth globally.
He said it also provided the nickel that goes into the batteries that make the energy revolution possible and the gas that energises WA and the Asia-Pacific.
“If we can continue to innovate and can capitalise on the technology opportunities to do this in a safer, more productive way, with less impact to our environment — it will be good for business, and for the world,” Mr Henry said.
The mining boss talked about the parallels between WA and Silicon Valley, outlining that 50 years ago Silicon Valley was still relatively early in its journey to become what it is known as today. Around the same time, nearly 15,000kms across the ocean, WA was trailing the nation in terms of per capita wealth, he said.
“It had a population of around just half a million and up in the Pilbara there was little by way of infrastructure, no iron ore industry and certainly no major iron ore exports,” he said.
“Fast forward to today and it’s a very different story. Silicon Valley is now home to Apple, Facebook, Google, and Netflix.
“And the Perth skyline features the logos of BHP, Woodside, Rio, South32, and FMG — symbols of this city’s pre-eminent role in the global resources industry.”
Mr Henry said while Silicon Valley and the resources sector were clearly very different industries what they had in common was the broad-based prosperity that had arisen as a function of business being freed to invest, encouraged to compete, to innovate, to progress and to meet the needs of the world.
“If tech made Silicon Valley, then resources have made WA,” he said.
“Just like tech made Silicon Valley, resources have helped to make Western Australia. The contribution of our sector to WA, Australia and the world is significant.”
Mr Henry also said in his keynote address that the industry was experiencing rapid change
“While we have a very rich history of innovation and growth in resources in WA, one of the things I love about this (RTS) event is that it is fundamentally about exciting prospects for the future,” he said.
“We live in a dynamic world. The opportunities are there for those who chase 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.”