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UNSW to host Off-Earth Mining Forum in Perth

AusIMM Bulletin
ยท 500 words, 2 min read


As the world faces a new era in space exploration, the mining industry can significantly influence the future of space technology.

To make the most of this opportunity, in a bold new initiative UNSW is taking its long-running Off-Earth Mining Forum (OEMF) to Perth on August 22, 2023. The event will be hosted by UNSW’s Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER), UNSW’s School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering (MERE) and AROSE (Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth). The program includes a combination of presentations on exciting new space resources initiatives and panel sessions where attendees can learn exactly what this developing area means for them.

“The people we’re trying to attract are innovative people in the mining industry, which is why we’ve come to Perth,” said Prof Andrew Dempster, one of the co-hosts. “The idea is, you look at how to solve a hard problem, like extracting water on the moon, and along the way, you solve ten easier problems you can implement immediately in your terrestrial mining business.”

Co-host Prof Serkan Saydam FAusIMM agrees. “The mining industry can learn a lot from the space industry, and vice versa. As we navigate the potentially vast universe of space resources, OEMF West 2023 offers an opportunity to learn from leading global experts about state-of-the-art technology in this sector.

‘Both industries have common challenges, such as exposure to high risks and operating in extreme environments. But both industries also share opportunities related to technology integration, as well as the development of infrastructure and logistics. OEMF West presents an ideal platform to come together and explore potential areas of collaboration.”

Program Director of AROSE, Michelle Keegan, said, “With significant challenges facing the industry, there is an ever-growing need to collaborate to find solutions. Sharing knowledge between space and resources is one such important opportunity. AROSE is an industry-led organisation bringing together these sectors, and it is very excited to be partnering with UNSW, who are an AROSE member, to run this forum, helping to forge a path for Australian remote operations to transform industries.”

Keynote presentations from South Australian company Fleet and the Colorado School of Mines have different perspectives on projects driven by both the mining and space industries. A third keynote from JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, highlights just how impressive the technology required to travel to an asteroid and take a rock sample.

A number of space resources missions are already in train and will be discussed in the morning, including Western Australia-based projects from Curtin University and AROSE.

The afternoon is dedicated to panels that draw out the issues that a mining company would need to consider if intending to participate in space resources activities. These include: the differences in approach to system engineering and project life cycles between space and mining projects; the business and legal issues; the compatibility between such space missions and the approaches taken to mining in extreme environments. Topics likely to be discussed are planetary science and geology, mining technology and equipment, robotics, automation and swarms, legal and regulatory frameworks, sustainability and ethics, commercialisation of space and business models, start-ups, SMEs, current risk reduction strategies and more.

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