Termites rule

I took this photo on my third trip to the Weipa mine - part of the Rio Tinto Aluminium operation. It is in the far north of Queensland, on the Cape York Peninsular pointing towards Papua New Guinea. Rio Tinto Aluminium have a bauxite mine here and are currently implementing Lean Manufacturing.

Cape York was named by the Lt James Cook in 1770 in honour of the Duke of York. I haven't seen many mountains here for him to have marched his armies up, but there are no shortages of termites and the mountains they create.

These structures are incredible in size, some standing over twelve metres high and are complex in nature. They are an engineering feat that architects can learn from. Inside the mounds there are cooling vanes to keep the internal temperatures low. It is fascinating to think of the intelligence these critters have and how they organise themselves to create a structure that outstrips any man-made building when compared to scale.

Rio Tinto Aluminium have a fantastic sustainable development programme which helps to preserve the environment in Weipa - termites included! The challenge for this year will be to show how Lean can support environmental initiatives in organisations with such a diverse portfolio as Rio Tinto. A challenge our team will relish.

Mark Radley