Australia’s $90 billion Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) sector, which provides vital support to the mining industry, can provide significant new productivity improvements to help miners survive and prosper during periods of low commodity prices.
The end of the global mining boom and sharp price declines across virtually all hard commodities is forcing mining companies to cut costs and lift productivity.
Adopting new technologies, finding smarter mining and processing solutions and making these available to the mining industry is the aim of the METS Growth Centre, launched by Federal Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne.
The METS Growth Centre initiative, or METS Ignited, is one of several similar initiatives which is the centrepiece of the Federal Government’s new industry policy aimed at lifting innovation, competitiveness and productivity by focusing on areas of competitive strength to help Australia transition into smart, high value and export focused industries.
The METS Growth Centre’s vision is to lift exports from the sector from the present rate of Aus$15 billion a year to $30 billion by 2030. The key objective is to drive excellence, not dependence and create an economy that ensures Australia’s ongoing prosperity.
METS Growth Centre chair Elizabeth Lewis-Gray said, “The launch of the METS Growth Centre is a crucial step in bringing together the skills, innovation and technology embedded within Australia’s globally renowned mining industry which is the ultimate beneficiary of these advanced research and development projects.
“There are around 386,000 highly skilled employees in the METS sector in Australia. This workforce represents one of the largest and most highly skilled industry groups in Australia, producing leading edge technology and equipment for the mining industry, one of Australia’s biggest export earners.
“But the METS sector is largely invisible to the wider public. This METS Growth Centre is aimed at bringing this sector into the mainstream of Australian industry and representing the very best skills and research this country can offer.”
A new $20 million Industry Growth Centre will be based at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane. The tender to host the centre, part of the Federal Government’s $225 million four-year plan to lift innovation and competitiveness in areas of industry strength, was won by QUT in collaboration with CSIRO, CRC Mining and CRC ORE. The tender was also developed in consultation with the Queensland Government and Brisbane Marketing.
Headquartered at QUT's Gardens Point campus, the centre is aimed at growing a sustainable engineering and technology intensive product and service supplier industry to the mining sector that is diversified, globalized and resilient in the face of commodity price fluctuations.
The Federal Government will provide $14 million over four years while the Queensland State Government will provide $6 million over four years plus staffing support to the centre.
QUT Business School’s assistant dean – research Professor Rachel Parker said QUT had a proven track record of ground-breaking research relevant to the METS sector.
“QUT Business School has numerous researchers engaging with problems that are the key challenges of the mining and METS sector including global value chain analysis, technology innovation, organisational culture and entrepreneurship,” she said.
“QUT also has strong capability in the Mathematics and Engineering disciplines in data analytics, visualization and robotics which are fundamental to the future competitiveness of the sector. QUT’s combined strength in business and engineering and technology based disciplines makes it the ideal location for the Growth Centre headquarters.
“Brisbane is also ideally placed to serve as the headquarters of the METS Growth Centre, with a survey from Austmine showing Queensland as having the largest number of METS companies of any state, generating revenue of around $21 billion a year.”