20/02/2007 - 22:00

Chris Colbourne - Pilbara Iron

20/02/2007 - 22:00


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Chris Colbourne - Pilbara Iron

Title: General manager operations, Hope Downs

Business: Mining

Total employees: 4,500

Reporting directly: 336



Driving the introduction and implementation of the Lean process at Rio Tinto Ore’s Tom Price mine is one of Chris Colbourne’s most significant business achievements.

The Lean process is based on the renowned Toyota Production Process; it brings a consistency to a business by finding “one best way of doing things”.

As a result of Lean implementation at Tom Price, Mr Colbourne was selected for the new role of general manager operations at Hope Downs – planned to become the showpiece for Rio Tinto in the application of Lean.

Career guides

• Never underestimate the power of a productive relationship – an outcome drive relationship where you bounce ideas from each other.

• In mining, increasing revenue is generally more important than cost. If you manage costs and focus on your revenue stream then ultimately your business is more profitable.

• The final key value is to build a business around systems rather than individuals.


Mr Colbourne undertook most of his studies in England and South Africa. He completed a master of science, mineral economics at Curtin University of Technology & WA School of Mines.

He is involved in activities and programs that benefit the Pilbara community, such as the Pilbara Pathway Partnership. He and his wife re-established the Tom Price branch of the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.

Top tips

“People are everything; forget it and you’ll lose more than your business.”


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