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BHP's Mount Whaleback mine in the ore-rich Pilbara region of northwest Australia. Pilbara is only one facet of the company's declared strategy to become a "fully integrated, highly automated" mining company by 2025. (Courtesy of BHP)
Company in focus

Mining giant BHP goes digital in race for survival

To break the commodities cycle, old industry embraces big data

SARAH HILTON, Nikkei staff writer | Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands

PERTH/SINGAPORE -- As a lightning storm descends on BHP's sprawling iron ore mines in northwest Australia's desert, some 50 huge trucks and 20 drills churn along undeterred.

They all are autonomous, and largely controlled by workers in a high-rise building over 1,000 km away. It is the nerve center for massive amounts of data streaming between Perth and the ore-rich Pilbara region, as well as other control centers as far afield as India and Chile.

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