Rio Tinto will upgrade and shift its enterprise resource planning and information management systems to run in the public cloud.
The mining giant is poised to announce the signing of a major deal with Accenture to "migrate core enterprise IS&T [information systems and technology] systems to an 'as-a-service' solution based in the cloud", according to the text of a leaked announcement sighted by iTnews.
Accenture was previously the partner for Rio's progressive global rollout of SAP for enterprise resource planning.
A spokesman at Rio Tinto's Brisbane office – home to a large portion of Australia's IS&T unit – could not immediately confirm the new project. Further comment is being sought by iTnews.
The announcement reveals Rio Tinto will completely change its IT strategy by adopting a "public cloud first policy".
One of the benefits of the move is expected to be consumption-based pricing, which will lead to "significant cost savings" that are anticipated to continue falling over time.
"This project redefines the delivery of application and infrastructure services," Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme said in the leaked announcement.
Nanterme also indicated the move was being driven by current price pressure in the resources industry.
One of Rio Tinto's largest exports – iron ore – has dipped below US$50 a tonne, and is now predicted to fall close to the giant's breakeven cost. Smaller rivals such as Atlas Iron have been forced to mothball operations as the price freefalls below their breakeven.
"This solution will allow Rio Tinto to smartly connect its infrastructure, software applications, data and operations capabilities in order to become an agile, intelligent, digital business that can better navigate the commodities cycles," Nanterme said.
Few details were revealed about where systems would be hosted, although the new IS&T environment would include "a co-located innovation centre in Singapore". Rio Tinto already runs a large portion of regional IS&T from Singapore.
Aside from uplifting application and infrastructure services, Accenture will also be charged with transforming "global service desk and site support functions.". It is unknown how this impacts services that until now have been run by CSC.
While the cloud-first outsourcing strategy is new, Rio Tinto has used outsourcers in its IS&T operations for some time. IBM, CSC and Infosys have all previously picked up work.