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Leading Australia’s technology future

Adrian Beer FAusIMM CEO, METS Ignited
· 900 words, 4 min read

METS Ignited is a Major Partner for AusIMM’s Thought Leadership Series 2021. Join us on Thursday 9 September to watch CEO Adrian Beer and other experts discuss new technology and innovations in the resources sector.

The direct contribution of the resources industry to Australia’s national economy is well recognised. Most often cited is the GDP contribution in terms of exports, global export ranking by commodity, the number of jobs, or the magnitude of investment the sector makes into safety, sustainability, skills and regional communities.

The Australian mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector is also increasingly recognised for its contribution to the economy. While harder to measure, and often difficult to define, METS represents the vendors, the service providers, equipment manufacturers and technology companies that focus their efforts on solving the resources industry current and future challenges. While many vendors to the mining industry do not identify as METS, the contribution of the sector to the Australian economy is well over $90 billion.

METS Ignited was formed in 2015 as one of six Industry Growth Centres funded by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. The Growth Centre is industry led, with the goal to leverage our national technology and research capabilities in the areas where Australia has competitive advantage.

As we look to the future of the global resources sector, and the role Australia will play, we are blessed with many of the skills and capabilities needed for future success. The formalisation of the partnership between METS Ignited and AusIMM intends to realise this potential, by aligning the skills and capability with the technology and innovation that is already embedded in our sector.

"The AusIMM Thought Leadership Series provides a significant platform to promote the technology and innovation coming out of the sector and the impact this is having on ESG and social responsibility, the future of our resources workforce, and productivity improvements in the emerging critical minerals space."

There is clearly a convergence of needs that has emerged the past few years. The sustained investment in innovation has created a wealth of knowledge and experience. While initially the many areas of focus have varied, collectively they now contribute to an opportunity for Australia to lead the way in addressing the future needs of the sector.

The global resource companies within our local economy have made decades of investment and resources into innovations to drive safety, productivity, energy efficiency and sustainability within their operations. Those innovations within the supply chains of resource companies are now making their way to market. Australia’s Resources Technology and Critical Minerals Processing roadmap is just one way we can expand upon Australia's experience, making these innovations accessible for the entire market.

We are seeing unlikely partnerships forming, with mining companies working together with each other to define their future needs, and calling vendors and researchers together to work collaboratively on their future challenges.

One great example of this collaborative approach to the future needs of our sector is the Electric Mine Consortium. Last year, METS Ignited and its partners worked with State of Play to publish the Electrification Report. On the back of this work, a number of companies in the mining industry acted, and agreed a series of deliberate steps towards decarbonisation.

Fourteen companies, including South32, OZ Minerals, IGO, Gold Fields, Barminco and led by State of Play, have established the Electric Mine Consortium to help reduce their Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions and to accelerate progress towards the fully electrified zero CO2 and zero particulates mine.

While for the consortium the specific goal is reducing cost, carbon emissions and improving health outcomes, the engagement leads the way for how the resources sector can collaboratively define future needs. By aggregating demand, and defining the market potential, this program is attracting researchers, technology companies across multiple industry sectors, to find solutions for the next generation of challenges.

In other initiatives like interoperability, we are seeing the demand for more plug and play design, with the global technology leaders defining the next generation of standards in areas such as automation. The rate of change and the advances of technology are moving faster that any one company can maintain, or any one solution can address. Working with the ERDi test lab in Perth, interoperability is another critical project where mining companies and technology vendors across multiple sectors openly collaborate through each stage of the project. Interoperability is driving jobs, skills and technologies created from the transformative impact automation is having across the resources sector.

“METS Ignited welcomes the formal partnership between our Industry Growth Centre and AusIMM to deliver greater collaborative opportunities between the resources sector and Australia’s leading industrial technology sector.”

Our resources sector is recognised as world-class, with our local research capability unpinning our global leadership position. Our sector recognises innovation is not a charity – it requires a supply, and demand, and a market to transact within. With the increased pace of change, and with the convergence of technology solutions that address multiple industry sectors, our future will depend on firm commitments to solving our industry challenges, a strong technology sector up to the task – and a healthy competitive marketplace to move fast.

METS Ignited is looking forward to working with AusIMM to build recognition of innovation in the METS sector and highlight a shared vision of industry growth.

“This partnership ensures that AusIMM can support the careers of professionals working in the METS sector, providing them with the leadership and development necessary to sustain a booming national industry.”

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