Austmine’s year in review: Fostering global METS growth

A Bortana electric vehicle.

The industry body looks back at the year that was for the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sectors.

Austmine is proud to celebrate our 30th anniversary of championing the Australian mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector in 2019.

As we share this milestone with our members, Austmine can also reflect on another successful year where the profile of our community has continued to grow, both domestically and abroad.

Austmine’s membership has more than doubled in the past five years, now sitting at over 600 companies around the country.

This network is essential in preparing businesses for the future by communicating the needs of mining customers, driving access to key decision makers and fostering knowledge and information sharing. 

Through our interaction with our members, we have seen three key themes emerge that are creating global growth outcomes for Australian METS: supply chain engagement from mining companies, greater international opportunities and sustainability focussed innovation.

As we move into 2020, Austmine will strengthen our focus on these themes to ensure that Australian METS can capitalise on growth avenues.

1. Supply chain engagement from mining companies

Increasingly, mining companies are recognising the importance of engaging with the METS sector to learn about new technologies, share knowledge around industry challenges and foster collaborative project opportunities.

Across the year we have seen this engagement leading to critical conversations about digital transformation, sustainability and social licence, connectivity and cyber security, diversity and collaboration and partnerships.

This was highlighted at both the Austmine 2019 Conference & Exhibition and IMARC 2019, where global mining leaders came to Australia for fantastic showcases of the best in mining innovation.

The most important outcomes from these events was the acknowledgement and proof that transformational technologies such as artificial intelligence, mining vehicle electrification, machine learning and augmented reality are no longer mere concepts for the mining industry; they are being actively implemented into mining operations.

This deeper integration of mining companies with the METS sector has also led to new business models, such as BHP’s multi-year collaboration agreement with Southern Innovation. This has enabled a smart SME company to access funding, skills and networks to develop game-changing, disruptive technologies.

2. Greater international opportunities

Australian METS are leading globally with the best solutions, strategies and technologies for the next generation of mining and beyond.

Australian METS can be found in every corner of the globe, not just selling products and services but investing and employing thousands of people. The sector is one of Australia’s only global benchmark industries where ‘Australian made’ is a hallmark of success.

In 2019, interest from international mining houses in Australian METS has grown and Austmine has continued to develop the global footprint of our members and link them into supply opportunities overseas.

Key highlights on the international front included mining missions to Papua New Guinea, Kazakhstan, Canada, the United States and Mexico, which provided commercial opportunities for our members at renowned operations such as KAZ Minerals’ Aktogay project, Grupo Mexico’s Santa Eulallia mine and Barrick Gold’s Cortez project.

Elsewhere, we have extended our relationship with New Caledonia, welcoming Societe Le Nickel to Australia to evaluate METS companies that can assist with their mine and plant 4.0 strategies.

Representatives from mining nations far and wide were also hosted in Australia to see the best solutions on offer, including Russia, Chile, Argentina, Indonesia, Mongolia and Colombia.

3. Sustainability focussed innovation

The biggest threat to mining’s long-term future is maintaining licence to operate. Globally, communities are increasing pressure on operations to reduce environmental footprint, develop sustainable practices and build prosperous local economies.

The Australian METS sector has responded to this need with a range of exciting innovations and smart solutions that promote sustainability across the value chain.

An example of this is Safescape’s Bortana Electric Vehicle, which was launched at the Austmine 2019 Conference & Exhibition. Traditionally a supplier of underground safety technologies, Safescape has responded to customer needs and major industry trends to diversify into the mobile equipment market and emissions reduction space.

Elsewhere, Voconiq emerged as an independent company following eight years of development within the CSIRO to tackle the challenge of community engagement. Their science-based approach records community views and opinions across the world, providing companies, industry and government with valuable insights to inform business practice.

Austmine has also witnessed the launch of collaborations within the METS sector to transform current practices in areas such as tailings and waste management, diesel emissions and carcinogens, water usage and drill and blast impacts.

It is exciting to see what the Australian METS sector can achieve in 2020.

This article also appears in the December 2019 edition of Australian Mining. 

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