METS Ignited chief executive officer Adrian Beer highlights the opportunities created by the clean energy transition and how a shift in government could create enormous economic potential for Australia.
Australia has traditionally been a leader in the global resources sector, and the country’s abundance of high-demand natural resources has supported the local economy for decades.
The mining industry has sustained investment into the local innovation ecosystem, creating a world-leading research sector and producing innovative technologies.
METS Ignited chief executive officer Adrian Beer told Australian Mining about the billions that have been spent to address future sustainability, low-emissions technology, and decarbonisation
“Many commentators have described the election outcome as climate-driven. The most direct route to achieving a low-emissions future is to unlock the technology that is currently stranded in our innovation ecosystem,” he said “A focus on commercialising innovation locally drives two major growth levers for the Australian economy.
“Firstly, by commercialising technology to address energy-intensive processes in a sustainable way, we build our local manufacturing sector and improve the resilience and sophistication of our national economy.
“Secondly, we increase the local demand for our critical minerals and energy metals, driving the need for greater onshore processing and downstream value adding.”
While Australia’s resources sector invests heavily into research and development, the solutions that emerge are often used to solve problems at the individual-site level. METS Ignited was initially set up to commercialise such technologies.
These innovations can often be used across several industry sectors, especially as organisations move to reduce their carbon emissions.
Beer said another major challenge facing Australia is the fact most the country’s valuable natural resources have their downstream processing concentrated in a small handful of countries.
“The risk this creates for Australia is our security of supply,” he said. “We ship our valuable materials overseas and buy them back as components within our everyday products at an extraordinary premium to their original value.
“While there are plenty of excuses, there are very few reasons why we could not capitalise on this value-adding opportunity. The real challenge is how to capitalise on this mammoth opportunity, as we are well behind the rest of the world in adding value locally.
“For this to be achieved, it will require strong leadership and co-ordination from our new government. The commitment to a sustainable future and real action agenda on climate will require a thoughtful and constructive approach between a number of cabinet ministers.”
Beer said it would require a concerted effort among the incoming Energy Minister Chris Bowen, new Resources Minister Madelaine King, and Ed Husic in the Industry and Science portfolio.
Prior to the election campaign, Husic committed to expand Australia’s resources technology capability through a $1 billion Value Adding in Resources Fund. Beer said the announcement signalled a commitment to building innovative technology and commercialisation programs in Australia.
“This provides a more effective pathway to commercialise the innovation stranded within research and our resources sector,” he said.
“In the case of METS Ignited, our Industry Growth Centre has invested $15 million into more than 30 projects, with over 60 industry partners who are bringing 20 new innovative technologies to market.
“Many of these products and services are in high demand across multiple industry sectors, including agriculture, clean energy, space and defence.
“Getting the industry policy settings right creates new jobs, builds our sovereign capability, strengthens regional communities and drive economic growth.”
This feature appeared in the July issue of Australian Mining.