Friday, 3 July 2020

Austmine Co-Labs Update: November 2017

In 2016, Austmine launched the Mining Collaboration Laboratories (Co-Labs) series to initiate industry - wide discussions on key strategic issues  including topics such as the Digital Mine, Next Generation Mineral Extraction, Business Improvement Now and Small Footprint Mining. These full-day intensive workshops provided a tangible platform to foster true industry collaboration, presenting an opportunity for miners, METS and researchers from around the country a common space to discuss the key issues within the industry today, whilst also looking to the future.

From these Co-Labs, like-minded individuals formed working groups that targeted critical challenges in the mining sector and collaborated on specific initiatives that sought to improve the way our industry works.

Since then, two working groups in particular have progressed, with industry leaders coming together  to further unpack the issues involved and brainstorm specific initiatives.   

The first of these is looking at increasing orebody knowledge and learning more about the resource in the ground. This came out of the Next Generation Mineral Extraction Co-Lab in Perth, with major iron ore miners expressing that access to real time data and information on the orebody would revolutionise mining operations.

Whilst work continues in the orebody knowledge space, this working group has developed more broadly, with miners excited about the concept and keen to get their most pressing issues communicated to Austmine members. Common issues around interoperability, permitting, social license to operate, as well as automation and its effect on the workforce, are being raised by miners as key concerns and areas that they would like further industry discussion and input into.

Miner’s, in fact, have presented key problem statements, such as:

  • “How are organisations addressing their recruitment and transition for roles based on automation and new technology employed?”
  • “What more can we learn about the ore body?  The key focus is every time miners touch the “rock” they want to learn more about the ore body and be able to adjust the processes, as well as to optimise the realisation of value from the ore body itself.  How do we do this?”
  • “Permitting’ is an area whereby they want to challenge the norm and look to do things differently where possible.  They would like to walk collaboratively with regulators and key stakeholders – as they understand the ore body and how they are going to extract value – to minimise the rework which is done between different agencies, mining companies and the regulators.”

If you’d like to know more or get involved in this working group, please contact WA Manager, Cameron Bowden

A second working group is also underway which is looking at low impact or small footprint mining, and issues related to community engagement and social license to operate.  A workshop was recently held at SMI in Brisbane to discuss and unpack these issues. Key questions asked during the discussion included:

  • What are communities telling us about low impact mining, and what is the evidence from a community perspective that there is a need to change? How can we move from a conversation about low impact, to one about maximising value for all stakeholders?
  • What is the impact of technology on communities, and where can benefit be derived?
  • Who is leading the way on these issues, and how can we bring the various conversations together?
  • What are the business models that create true shared value?

The next meeting of this working group will be held by teleconference and will look at defining where efforts will be focussed. If you’d like to know more or get involved in this working group, please contact Chris Gibbs Stewart, our CEO on


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