EIGHT mining equipment, technology and services (METS) companies have shared in more than $7 million in funding to get innovative projects off the ground.

Part of a four-year, $15.6m commitment made by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, the funds incentivise collaboration and address METS sector priorities.

This funding established the METS Ignited Collaborative Project Funds, which supports industry-led projects to improve the productivity, competitiveness and innovative capacity in Australia’s $86 billion METS sector.

Drone technology designed by Western Australian business Emapper, which undertakes necessary environmental mapping required for any mine site, reducing safety risks to workers, is one of the projects funded in this round.

The drone technology is designed to reduce the need for workers to be out in the extreme weather conductions or among the 27 species of venomous snakes and other predators found in the Pilbara.

The METS Growth Centre works with businesses like Emapper to strengthen Australia’s position as a global hub for mining innovation, encouraging excellence in mining through industry and research partnerships.

METS Ignited CEO Ric Gros said the funding will spur necessary collaboration in the sector.

“Facilitating such innovation is part of the mandate for METS Ignited, and the recipients of this round will be making invaluable contributions to the mining and METS sectors through their initiatives,” he said.

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 $17.4m.

The largest share of the funding ­­– $2m – was awarded to Resolution Systems – a South Australian-based business conducting a project to develop software that will increase the efficiency of mine truck fleets.

Other projects that received funding in this round include: technology testing facilities; battery-powered vehicles for underground mining; data acquisition software for environmental rehabilitaton and drilling; and a new process for water treatment.

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.

In this round of funding, the second provided through the METS Ignited Project Fund, the $7 million in Government funding has been matched by industry, for a total investment of almost $17 million.

Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaelia Cash said the successful projects reflected the important role of collaboration and improved competitiveness of the nation’s METS industry.

Applications for METS Ignited Project Fund ‘Tranche III’ close on 31 August 2018. Click here for more information.

Recipients of the second round of the Collaborative Project Fund ($7.14 million total)

University of Western Australia

Partners: BHP, CORE Innovation Hub

Collaborative Project Funds: $100K

Industry investment: $100K

Establishment of a dedicated Living Lab at UWA to enable METS companies to trial their technologiesto demonstrate performance to mining companies without the difficulty and expense of testing on mine sites.

Emapper

Partners: Roy Hill Iron Ore, Mt Gibson Iron Ltd, eagle.io, Astron Environmental Solais Geoinformatics

Collaborative Project Funds: $1.2M

Industry investment: $1.2M

The Emapper digital platform enables mining companies to meet their environmental rehabilitation obligations with greater certainty, more detail and at a significantly reduced cost – a complete picture of rehabilitation progress is available online in real time.

Energetique Mining Vehicles Pty Ltd

Partners: Aeris Resources, Safescape, Minetech Australia, Cougar Mining Group

Collaborative Project Funds: $500K

Industry investment: $700K

Underground mining is moving to adopt battery electric vehicles (BEV) globally because of lower emissions, heat loads and maintenance costs. This project will enable Energetique to use its well-developed electric vehicle design capability to build and supply the Australian market initially before expanding overseas.

IMDEX

Partners: Orica, Anglo American, Teck Resources

Collaborative Project Funds: $1M

Industry investment: $1M

Overcoming an existing lack of geological data by enabling the collection of real-time data during blasthole drilling, and therefore producing more efficient blast designs.

Qtec

Partners: Wallis Drilling, Gyromax

Collaborative Project Funds: $239K

Industry investment: $239K

This project will produce sensors and instrumentation for drilling – similar to those used in the oil and gas industry – that can withstand the mining environment and will lead to cost reductions in drilling of up to 50%.

Micronised Mineral Systems

Partners: Tronox, Acadis Australia Pacific, Tech Bakery

Collaborative Project Funds: $210,950

Industry investment: $210,950

Demonstrating a new process for treating residual water on minesites so it is environmentally benign at a much reduced operating and capital cost.

Resolution Systems

Partners: Barrick, Macmahon, South32, Petra Data Science, Manta Controls

Collaborative Project Funds: $2M

Industry investment: $3.5M

Development of sophisticated fleet management software which allows different operational areas of mine sites to communicate with one another and increase mine truck fleet productivity by 20%.

Manufacturing Intelligence Pty Ltd

Partners: FMG, South 32, Mining3 Enterprise Transformation Partners

Collaborative Project Funds: $980K

Industry investment: $1.49M

Mine sites typically use multiple software packages to plan and manage all of the mining processes. This project will provide software to remove the constraints in moving data from one package to another, thus unlocking significant productivity improvements.