$4.1m in funding awarded to eight innovative projects
Hon Karen Andrews MP, Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology has announced seven mining supply businesses as the recipients of $4.1m in innovation funding under the METS Ignited Collaborative Project Funds.
The recipients of the funding will now be able to launch eight collaborative industry projects that will deliver highly-advanced solutions to a variety of mining challenges and contribute to the growth and capability of the METS sector.
This funding is part of a four-year, $15.6m commitment made by the Australian Government to incentivise collaboration and address METS sector priorities. The funding established the METS Ignited Collaborative Project Funds, which support industry-led projects to improve the productivity, competitiveness and innovative capacity in the METS sector.
Today’s announcement at Mineral Technologies on the Gold Coast represents the third tranche of the funding. METS Ignited received 26 grant applications and has awarded the funds to businesses specialising largely in robotics and automation, data analytics, data platforms, internet of things and business and professional services. The recipients are: Mineral Technologies, Premron, Austmine, Roobuck, Process IQ, AMOG (x2) and Magotteaux.
Acting CEO of METS Ignited, Ian Dover, says the funding will spur necessary collaboration in the sector and drive development of technologies that will be vital for the future of the mining sector.
“Active collaboration across the ecosystem is core to accelerating commercialisation of innovation and has been lacking in the METS and mining sector, where historically relationships have been in the main transactional,” says Dover.
“Facilitating such innovation is part of the mandate for METS Ignited. It’s vital we support the application of influential future technologies across the METS sector and maintain Australia’s competitiveness.
“More than 50 percent of specialised METS companies are exporters. If a METS company’s innovation can benefit an Australian mining project it is virtually guaranteed global interest.”
Recipients of the Collaborative Project Funds are required to secure equal or greater investment from an industry partner. As a result, the total value of the eight projects is $11m.
The largest fund recipients were Queensland-based Mineral Technologies and Premron, awarded $1M each. Mineral Technologies’ Automation of the Roy Hill Iron Ore Benefication Plant project automates the gravity separation spiral process used in the mine to optimise the concentration of lower grade ore into higher value ore for export. Premron’s Continuous Haulage System project will revolutionise coal mining in underground mines. It eliminates the use of shuttle cars, which are used to take the coal cut from the wall of the mine to a transfer point further away in the mine (dead time). CHS will see the coal go straight onto a conveyor belt and out of the mine.
Other projects that received funding in this round include: sensor technology to monitor the location of people and equipment underground; AI technology that emulates the role of a grinding expert; automated sensor detection for oversized rocks; a predictive analytics tool that pinpoints the best time for equipment descaling; a METS career pathway program; and a device to give more detailed information on the chemistry inside the grinding mill while it is operating.
Collectively, the projects will benefit the mining sector by optimising the value chain, increasing productivity for mining and mineral processing, supporting and enhancing environmental management, and improving operational safety.
COLLABORATIVE PROJECT FUND RECIPIENTS
Automation of the Roy Hill Iron Ore Benefication plant
Recipient: Mineral Technologies
Partners: Roy Hill
Collaborative Project Funds: $1M
Industry investment: $1M
This project automates the gravity separation spiral process used in the mine tooptimise the concentration of lower grade ore into higher value ore for export.
Continuous Haulage System
Partners: Gauley Robertson Australia, Kestrel Coal Mine
Collaborative Project Funds: $1M
Industry investment: $1.13M
Continuous haulage will revolutionise coal mining in underground mines. It eliminates the use of shuttle cars, which are used to take the coal cut from the wall of the mine to a transfer point further away in the mine. CHS will see the coal go straight onto a conveyor belt and out of the mine.
Austmine METS career Pathway Program
Collaborative Project Funds: $240K
Industry investment: $1.76M
This project places university students as interns in METS companies around Australia, increasing the interest level and uptake of graduates into the METS sector.
The OVERwatch Platform
Partners: Redpine Signals, Northpark Mines, University of Wollongong
Collaborative Project Funds: $600K
Industry investment: $1.5M
This project develops sensors and software to track the location of people and machinery working in underground mines and ensure that collisions are avoided. This is a complex project as there is limited communication options underground (e.g. no wifi).
Remote grinding optimisation and support centre
Recipient: Process IQ
Partners: Orway Mineral Consultants, Jamieson Consulting, Curtin University
Collaborative Project Funds: $620K
Industry investment: $780K
This project enables grinding experts to interact directly and in real time with grinding circuits on remote minesites to ensure they are operating at their most productive levels.The project will develop automated AI software to emulate the experts as there is very limited supply of this specialist expertise, leading to increased processing efficiency globally.
Automated Oversize Detection
Collaborative Project Funds: $150K
Industry investment: $220K
This project involves developing sensor equipment that alerts the mine when rocks are too big to process throughthe crushing and grinding equipment. Blockages in the crushing and grinding circuits are costly and time-consuming. Haulage trucks with oversized rocks will be diverted to a separate location in the mine, which avoids stoppages.
Smooth Operator leach circuit process optimisation
Partners: Lithium Consultants
Collaborative Project Funds: $220K
Industry investment: $220K
This project involves developing a predictive analytics tool that allows copper and nickel mines to pinpoint when they should close equipment for descaling. Closing equipment too late or early is very costly. There is a very large global market for this product.
Commercialisation of pulp chemistry monitor for the mining industry
Partners: Hydrix, Manta Controls, Newcrest Mining
Collaborative Project Funds: $250K
Industry investment: $310K
This project involves developing a device to give more detailed information on the chemistry inside the grinding mill while it is operating. Grinding and flotation circuitsuse many chemical inputs in order to extractminerals from the ore. Getting the chemical balance right in the mill and the next stage of floatation is critical to removing as much of the valuable mineral as possible. The percentages of the yield vary between 85% and 95% and a 1% improvement in yield will deliver a very large financial benefit to the mine.