The Hon Karen Andrews MP, Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, announced seven mining supply businesses as the recipients of AU$4.1 million in innovation funding from mining equipment, technology and services (METS) Industry Growth Centre, METS Ignited.

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, AU$15.6 million 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.

The announcement 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 Mattigeaux.

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 Mr 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 per cent 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, bringing the total value of the eight projects to AU$11 million.

The largest fund recipients were Queensland-based Mineral Technologies and Premron, awarded AU$1 milllion 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.

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.