New training centre for complex resources to be launched next month
Next month the Federal Minister for Education (the Hon Alan Tudge) will formally launch the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Integrated Operations for Complex Resources (ARC ITTC IOCR).
The training centre is a large, inter-disciplinary project that will deliver the essential enabling tools – advanced sensors, data analytics and artificial intelligence – for the automated, integrated and optimised mining and processing of complex resources. In this case, these refer to iron oxide, copper, gold (IOCG) deposits. However, the Training Centre is open to new industry partners that may extend complex resources to other types of orebodies.
The training centre is being established to train the next generation of engineers and scientists in the development and application of the tools necessary for automated, integrated and optimised mining and processing. This is a current knowledge priority for the mining industry. Through its research programs, the training centre will:
- demonstrate the benefits of, and deliver, the integrated tools to maximise productivity and reduce risk
- advance capability in integrating sensed proxy and directly measured data
- deliver high-quality people capable of effectively bridging the gap between information and operations technology
- deliver lean technologies that will benefit the environment, such as less tailings and less energy and water consumption
- provide new opportunities for entrepreneurial partners to fill gaps in commercial capability and germinate innovative services
- increase value in the mining and METS sectors with radical technological change.
A mining operation is essentially a large, complex inter-disciplinary system – a sequence of interdependent inputs and outputs that deliver a final product. The optimisation of the components of this system requires multiple disciplines – geology, mining engineering, mineral processing, physics, chemistry, mathematics, mechanical engineering and computer science. Such systems cannot be optimised by independently optimising their component parts. The systems approach taken by the training centre is a comprehensive analysis focused on the interrelationships of the constituent parts of the system and how the system functions over time.
The Training Centre will address mine automation by integrating all stages of the mining and processing system so that intelligence across the value chain can be automatically generated, delivered and exploited.
Governance, funding and structure
A governance structure has been established for the Training Centre to ensure that it is informed by relevant, world-leading leading research and by wide, independent industry engagement beyond current industry partners. This structure includes an independent Advisory Committee and a Science Advisory Committee. Membership of the Advisory Committee includes leading figures in the mining industry from Australia, Canada and Brazil. Membership of the Science Advisory Committee comprises leading researchers from Australia, Canada, Chile and the European Union.
The centre is funded by the Australian Research Council, two mining companies (BHP and OZ Minerals), 15 METS companies and three university partners (University of Adelaide, University of South Australia and Curtin University). It also includes three industry support and promotion agencies, the South Australia State Government, and the Federal Government (via the ARC).
The Training Centre will employ 16 PhD scholars and three post-doctoral researchers. A total of 26 academics will contribute to the research with expertise from the disciplines of geology, mining engineering, mineral processing, mechanical engineering, computer science, physics, mathematics, chemical engineering and electronic engineering.
The PhD scholars will spend a total of 12 months conducting their research in one or more of the industry-partner companies. Research conducted in this collaborative manner will contribute to ensuring that research outcomes are translated into industry practice. In many cases, it will ensure that outcomes are capable of translation to commercialisation.
In several PhD projects members of partner industry organisations are co-supervising the PhD research. This involvement contributes to ensuring that research is industry-relevant.
The centre comprises three research nodes:
Node 1: Smart Sensing
Focus: new, field-deployable sensor tools, and how these tools interact with the resource at different stages.
Node 2: Data Analytics and Integration
Focus: data analytics to derive data-driven, real-time on-line and process models from existing and new sensor suites and plant operating data feeds.
Node 3: Optimisation through integration
Focus: integration to optimise overall value by linking upstream and downstream stages.
What will success look like?
Successful delivery of outcomes will include significant reduction in variability and uncertainty across each of the three major components of a mining operation: in situ resource, mining and processing.
Success will also include delivery of the benefits of, and the tools for, integration to maximise productivity and reduce risk in the mining value chain through clever applications of integrated lean principles. In doing so, it will deliver the next generation of scientists and engineers in the critical areas of sensors, data analytics and machine learning for complex resources.
Invitation to the launch
AusIMM members are invited to the launch, and those who want to attend should register by contacting the Training Centre Business Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org. The launch will be at the National Wine Centre, Corner of Hackney Rd and Botanic St, Adelaide, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm on Friday 9 July.
For more information on the training centre, including the participating organisations, visit the website at https://iocr.com.au/