Kate: Australia is considered a global leader in mining innovation and mining support services. Some of the historical factors that have allowed Australia to lead innovation in the industry were discussed at a recent Innovation and Excellence Day at the Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies (QCAT). The advantages for mining innovation in Australia included:
a mining industry of global significance;
a large talent pool of engineers and scientists;
mature infrastructure such as research groups and established universities; and
government support for industry R & D
Australia has maintained a capacity to innovate in the mining sector, while many other countries such as South Africa, the USA and the UK have seen their ability to innovate decrease due to emigration of skilled people, resource constraints, or the closure of university courses and once important government based research centres (e.g. United States Bureau of Mines, UK National Coal Board).
Small innovative Australian companies such as the Brisbane-based GroundProbe have been able to become significant players in the global mining community based on niche technology innovation and appropriate commercialisation support. GroundProbe sells slope stability radar to mines around the world for improving the protection of people and equipment in the pit. This product was developed from research initially based at the University of Queensland. Australia has a well-developed mining technology and services sector, which plays a role in the economy as a major exporter.
Bridge8 is currently engaged by the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME) to deliver a roadmap for research, development and innovation in the South Australian mining industry. The roadmap will identify the major challenges facing exploration, mining and production in South Australia and ask how R&D is being considered to address issues for the future. Kristin is currently interviewing around 25 industry leaders and the report will be provided to participants through SACOME and the State Government before the end of the year.
I’m planning to devote a couple of blog posts to some issues in mining innovation in Australia that have relevance for innovation in Australian industry more broadly. I’m particularly interested in exploring how Australian innovators work within an industry dominated by large players, and the increasing significance of environmental constraints as drivers of innovation. It will be interesting to see how the industry approaches these challenges for the future.