Tag Archives: METS Ignited

Collaborative project featuring Gold Fields looks to revolutionise gold plant data analysis

Gold Fields, Orway IQ, CSIRO, Curtin University and Gekko Systems have come together to commercialise a complete solution package for collecting and analysing gold plant data in real time.

This is a process that will revolutionise the industry’s ability to measure circuit inventory and recovery in real time, move it into the digital world and provide opportunity for full automation, according to Gekko.

Earlier this month, METS Ignited Industry Growth Centre announced the consortium as recipients of the Tranche 4 Collaborative Project Funds. The METS Ignited funding will assist the development of a system to collect and analyse real-time gold reconciliations and automate gold processing plants by providing the technology, software, skills and expertise to the miners as an integrated package.

“In a world-first, the project draws together a range of technologies and skill sets that are the first step to truly understanding what is happening in a gold production plant in real time and will eventually lead to a fully autonomous gold plant,” Gekko said.

METS Ignited CEO, Adrian Beer, said the project funding is supporting the commercialisation of innovation developed in partnership with industry, research and Australia’s mining equipment technology and services (METS) companies.

“The METS Ignited Collaborative Project Funds are a catalyst for industry collaboration to enable commercial pathways for Australian technology to deliver global results,” he said.

Gold Field’s Processing Projects Coordinator, Matt Dixon, said the value of this collaboration was having information available in real time to make decisions.

“The METS Ignited project is looking to integrate multiple technologies to achieve a step change in the automation and optimisation of gold processing,” he said. “Recent innovations by CSIRO and Curtin University, in partnership with Gekko Systems, are now making the potential to monitor gold in real time a reality.”

Gold Fields has chosen the Gruyere gold mine (owned 50:50 with Gold Road Resources) as the site to install and test these technologies, according to Dixon.

“Combining the OLGA (OnLine Gold Analyser, pictured) and Carbon Scout, with newly developed data capture and analytics technologies, aims to provide a step change to how we measure, monitor and optimise gold recovery,” he said.

This is a “world-first project”, creating a technological capability that does not yet exist anywhere else in the gold sector, according to Dixon.

The project will address current difficulties in accounting for gold during production, lag times in assessing data and adapting procedures to maximise production from the data provided and the safety around a number of those procedures.

The ultimate aim is to have gold process and recovery data being analysed within minutes rather than days from anywhere in the world and for production to be adapted to reflect this data, Gekko said.

3ME, Batt Mobile Equipment gear up for TRITEV deployment at Aeris’ Tritton mine

With the launch of the ‘TRITEV’ in Australia earlier this month, 3ME Technology and Batt Mobile Equipment unveiled what is believed to be the first fully battery-electric retrofit 20 t loader suitable for deployment in underground hard-rock mines.

The Integrated Tool-Carrier/Loader is scheduled to arrive at Aeris Resources’ Tritton underground copper mine in New South Wales later this year as part of an initiative developed under Project EVmine, with the help of METS Ignited.

It follows on the heels of Safescape’s Bortana EV, launched in 2019, also as part of Project EVmine.

Steven Lawn, Chief Business Development Officer at 3ME, told IM that the machine’s development represented more than just a “diesel refit”.

“The machine we used was a second-hand Volvo L120E that required a ground-up rebuild,” he said. “The guys removed all diesel internal combustion engine components except the transmission and drivetrain. They then modelled the expected duty cycle.”

After this modelling, the designers developed a battery-electric system (battery, motor, motor control unit and ancillary items) that would suit the application at hand.

The software team then entered the process, writing the vehicle control unit software (ie the software that makes everything work), with a focus on ensuring the human machine interface remained the same so there was no difference for an operator controlling the legacy diesel variant and the battery-electric retrofit version, Lawn explained.

They then integrated the system into the existing platform before the team at Batt Mobile Equipment provided a mechanical overhaul of the machine.

Ahead of deployment at Tritton, the company plans to test the machine at the Newstan mine, in New South Wales, Lawn said. This underground mine, previously owned by Centennial Coal, was put on care and maintenance back in 2014.

The partnership that delivered this industry first already has eyes on another EV retrofit, Lawn said, explaining that a Minecruiser platform for use in underground hazardous area mines is next on the agenda.

3ME Technology is understood to have an upcoming release in the pipeline in regards to its state-of-the-art battery system for mining applications, now also under demand from the defence market as indicated by recent public announcements about 3ME Technology’s participation in Australia’s C4 EDGE Program.

“The increased levels of safety and compliance achievable with the 3ME Technology battery system means that 3ME Technology is spearheading the supply of high-performance lithium-ion batteries into underground mining,” the company said.

3ME and Batt Mobile Equipment showcase new 20 t battery-electric loader

A new underground mine electric vehicle (EV) has been showcased in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, promising a “rEVolution for mining operations”.

The ‘TRITEV is believed to be the first fully battery-electric retrofit 20 t loader suitable for deployment into underground hard-rock mines. It has been developed in Australia for the mining industry alongside Safescape’s Bortana EV, launched in 2019.

A collaboration between 3ME Technology and Batt Mobile Equipment to deliver the fully operational TRITEV prototype is anticipated to represent a successful shift away from diesel-run vehicles for Aeris Resources and its Tritton copper project in New South Wales.

With the TRITEV now complete and operating with a capability that meets or exceeds the diesel variant, 3ME Technology believes the platform will be a key player in the drive to decarbonise, and eliminate the issue of diesel particulate matter underground all while saving on the high operating costs associated with mine shaft ventilation and the running of an ageing diesel fleet.

The electric vehicle has been developed under the METS Ignited Collaborative Project Funds, which bring together Australian METS companies, global suppliers, mine operators, research organisations and capital providers to support the improved productivity, competitiveness and innovative capacity of the Australia’s leading METS sector.

Justin Bain, 3ME Technology’s CEO, who unveiled the TRITEV at this week’s event, said: “The TRITEV has been the result of a heavily collaborative effort. Whilst it’s been a challenging integration process, we’ve enjoyed working closely with all parties and we are now in position to replicate these models at scale.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure working with the team at Batt Mobile Equipment. Their industry knowledge, vehicle design expertise and mechanical acumen is second to none. We felt today would be the perfect time to announce we have formalised our partnership, which we believe will mark the Hunter [Valley] as a powerhouse in the battery-electric mining space.”

METS Ignited CEO, Adrian Beer, said the showcase highlights the immense capability of Australia’s METS sector to deliver technologies to improve sustainable mining practices.

“METS Ignited Industry Growth Centre is pleased to support the commercialisation of technologies enabling safety improvements for Australia’s mining industry and potential global partners,” Beer said.

3ME Technology COO, Martin Kime, said the TRITEV is already receiving strong interest from the underground mining industry.

“With hundreds of these platforms in mines across Australia, we have seen significant interest from other miners in the battery-electric retrofit of existing platforms,” Kime said. “From the conversations we’ve had, what is driving the orders we’ve received is the recognition that there is an absolute need to remove diesel and many miners realise that by getting in early they will secure access to the platforms.

“Given the demand, we look forward to bringing jobs to the Hunter, helping with the COVID recovery whilst creating next-generation, clean-battery technology!”

With a range of additional mining vehicles out there to be electrified, building on the success of the ‘Project EVmine’, it is anticipated the METS Ignited, Safescape, Aeris Resources, 3ME Technology, Batt Mobile Equipment partnership will continue with its quest to electrify underground mining to increase the standards of workplace health and safety for the miners, benefit the environment while allowing miners be more competitive on the global market via significant savings to operating expenses, METS Ignited said.

METS Ignited to fund four collaborative mining technology projects

In line with the Federal Government’s recently published Modern Manufacturing Strategy, METS Ignited has announced the latest award of projects as a part of its Industry Growth Centre collaborative project funds.

It has announced the award of METS Ignited Tranche 4 Collaborative Project Funds, with the combined investment of over A$6 million ($4.3 million) from METS Ignited and industry partners going to AMOG Pty Limited, Gekko Systems, Polymathian, and Universal Field Robotics.

The fourth round of the funds focused on the application of analytics, automation and robotics in the mining industry. The selected projects have originated in the local market, are industry-led, and are projected to deliver a high degree of global impact potential and substantial benefits to the METS sector, according to the group.

The success of these four projects with over 17 industry partners in total is projected to deliver almost two hundred new roles, and generate a combined revenue contribution of over A$100 million for the sector, it said.

“METS Ignited’s role as an Industry Growth Centre is to lead collaboration between Australian mining equipment technology and service (METS) companies, global suppliers, mine operators, research organisations and capital providers to support the improved productivity, competitiveness and innovative capacity of the Australia’s world-leading METS sector,” METS Ignited said.

METS Ignited Chief Executive, Adrian Beer, says the quality and capability of the funding applicants is becoming increasingly more sophisticated, with a number of the solutions having broader applicability across a number of sectors.

“This round of project fund recipients demonstrates just how capable our leading global METS sector is, and what is possible within our local technology sector,” Beer said. “We are extremely proud of what has been achieved by the project fund recipients to date, and this new addition to the project funding shows that we have a huge potential to build upon.”

(pictured is Polymathian’s ORB mining optimisation software)

Australia METS sector receives government boost

Australia’s mining equipment and technology services (METS) sector is set to benefit from further funding from the government’s SME Export Hubs Initiative after being named in the Australia Government’s recent financial support program.

Karen Andrews, the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, and Simon Birmingham, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, said the funding would allow small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Australia to tap into new markets around the world.

In the METS sector, specifically, the SME METS Export Hub Initiative will be expanded into Victoria and Western Australia through the A$1.025 million grant, according to industry-led, Australia government-funded, growth centre for the METS sector, METS Ignited.

The growth centre said the news was a boost for Western Australia METS where the Digital Mining Export Hub aims to build a digital mining capability network. In Victoria, meanwhile, the Export Hub will focus on METS capability acceleration, with both programs linking SMEs to international growth opportunities.

METS Ignited CEO, Adrian Beer, said the expansion of the initiative was great news for METS exporters across the country, providing growth and capability development opportunities and increased international market access.

“METS Ignited is very supportive of the SME Export Hub funding announcement which highlights the importance of the METS sector to the national economy,” he said. “The expansion of the program to include Austmine to lead the Export Hubs for Western Australia and Victoria will not only provide growth and capability development opportunities for METS exporters but also an opportunity to enhance Australian METS’ reputation internationally.

“We look forward to seeing the growth outcomes for the sector.”

The SME Export Hubs Initiative is supported by Industry Growth Centres to advance the establishment of local and regional hubs to assist Australia businesses to take their products and services to the global market, according to METS Ignited.

Miners not taking cybersecurity risks seriously, report finds

While cybersecurity is today considered a major threat to all industrial companies, a recent report out of Australia has concluded it will take a catastrophic event for it to be taken seriously in the mining industry.

Through interviews, survey and analysis of Australia’s largest mining and service companies, including BHP, Rio Tinto, South32, and Anglo American, the ‘State of Play: Cyber Security Report’, from researchers at State of Play, has uncovered that 98% of top-level executives think a catastrophic event is required to drive an industry response to cybersecurity in mining.

This is despite State of Play Chairman and Co-founder, Graeme Stanway, saying the risk of cybersecurity failures in mining could be severe.

“In an increasingly automated and interconnected world, the risk of rogue systems and equipment is growing rapidly,” he says.

“If someone hacks into a mining system, they can potentially take remote control of operational equipment. That’s the level of risk that we are facing.”

Global Head of Cybersecurity at BHP, Thomas Leen, agreed and said the mining industry is up against archaic processes when it comes to evolving on the cybersecurity front.

“Mining as an industry has a low level of cybersecurity maturity, mainly due to legacy environments that lack basic capabilities,” he says.

The report went on to find that the second most likely driver to instigate change, after a catastrophic event, will be government led initiatives and responses.

Michelle Price, CEO of independent, not-for-profit organisation, AustCyber, believes public-private partnership is the key to driving change in the way the mining industry approaches cybersecurity.

“AustCyber has collaborated with METS Ignited and State of Play to conduct this survey as we see the potential to improve cybersecurity across the mining environment,” she says.

“There are several challenges specific to the mining sector as documented in the Australian Cyber Security Industry Roadmap, developed in conjunction with CSIRO – such as operational technology, connected equipment and sensors, availability of data, anomaly detection and the volatility of markets.

“There are plenty of growth opportunities – especially when the sector collaborates with organisations like AustCyber to have a coordinated voice on the kind of support it needs to push forward cyber resilience.”

South32 Head of Cybersecurity, Clayton Brazil, sees this collaboration as a strength of cybersecurity in the mining industry. “Cybersecurity is incredibly collaborative in mining, we know it’s a critical industry for our nation and we all want to be safer,” he says.

Brazil sees a strong cybersecurity capability as a strategic opportunity for South32. “Done properly, cybersecurity can be a competitive advantage for us,” he said.

Interestingly, when asked what is the most likely motivation for cyber attacks, 50% of responses identified extortion and theft as the most likely cause, followed by competition with 21% and politics with 19%.

METS Ignited CEO, Adrian Beer, says industry growth and sustainability will come from collaboration and the implementation of standards. “Mining operations are still made up of legacy closed systems that have customised integrations between them,” he says.

“However, the modern technology vendor community is trying to overcome these systems with new models; building collaboration and trust between mining and the technology sector will create a secure sustainable future.”

Beer also believes standards have a two-prong role to play. “There is clearly a need for both a strong set of standards to define what good looks like in terms of cybersecurity more broadly, and a set of industry standards to ensure that the specific needs are met to deliver those secure outcomes.”

Australia has much to gain from resource sector technology advances, report says

Harnessing new technologies in the mining, oil and gas industries will add A$74 billion ($50 billion) to the Australian economy by 2030 and create more than 80,000 new local jobs, according to a new report from METS Ignited and NERA.

Titled ‘Staying Ahead of the Game Report’, the report says data analytics, automation and robotics technologies continue to transform the resources sector and Australia needs to be at the forefront of technological progress or risk other countries taking the lead.

The report was designed to attempt to predict the nature and scale of how Australia’s resources industries, including both the producers and their supply chains, might change if they fully embraced the latest advances in operational technologies such as analytics, automation and robotics.

It further analysed what these changes mean for employment and workforce development (especially in the operations areas across regional Australia), and the wider economy.

To estimate the impact of these technological changes, the report analysed 30 types of technological innovation considered most relevant and carried out more than four dozen interviews with industry and technology experts to support the findings.

It also laid out a four-step roadmap that, it said, will lead Australia to success. The four steps were around strengthening collaboration, creating and supporting national cross-industry automation technology clusters, expanding the “entrepreneurial ecosystem” and boosting skills and research and development.

Australia’s Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, said Australia has one of the most competitive mining, oil and gas industries in the world which will continue to boost its economy as it transforms.

“A vibrant and competitive resources sector is vital to Australia’s economic future and the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies will be a key driver of industry transformation,” she said. “The use of analytics and robotics not only provides significant safety and environmental benefits, it is also rapidly increasing job opportunities.”

Andrews added: “This kind of technology opens up new, unexplored opportunities for the resources sector and what this report shows is the huge economic opportunity if new technology is embraced.”

The report was produced by METS Ignited and NERA, two industry growth centres established to drive innovation, productivity and competitiveness.

It comes shortly after a A$2 million Future Technology Project Fund was made available through NERA for projects that accelerate the commercialisation of science and technology, improve the uptake of innovative digital technologies, and encourage future investment, productivity and global trade, in the oil, gas and energy sector.

ABB’s Adrian Beer to replace Dover as METS Ignited CEO

METS Ignited has appointed Adrian Beer as its new CEO, solidifying, the company says, “the organisation’s focus on delivering outcomes for the sector and responding to the opportunities presented by Industry 4.0”.

Announcing the appointment, METS Ignited Chair, Lyle Bruce said Beer is a globally experienced executive with a broad range of industry skills spanning more than 20 years in the METS (mining equipment technology and services) and mining sectors.

“Adrian’s experience with global METS and mining organisations and his international relationships will help METS Ignited to grow and expand local opportunities,” Bruce said.

Beer, who took up the hot seat today, was previously Asia-Pacific regional leader for ABB Enterprise Software. He joined ABB to lead the information technology/operational technology integration strategy for mining, including responsibility for both product management and solution strategy of ABB’s Intelligent Mining and Enterprise Asset Management product lines, METS Ignited said.

Prior to ABB, Adrian was a founding member of GE Mining, the business unit of General Electric responsible for its mining business operations in Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.

Increasingly, METS Ignited’s programs have taken on a digital technology focus to equip Australia METS companies with the tools and skills they need to win more work and grow their businesses, the growth centre said.

“The new CEO has worked for two of the largest technology companies in the world, bringing with him first-hand experience of the impact of technology on global asset intensive industries,” METS Ignited said.

Acting CEO, Ian Dover, said the appointment is exciting for both the industry growth centre and the sector.

“Adrian comes to us with a real depth of knowledge and experience from right across the mining value chain, including the global METS companies that are vital to efficient mining operations, making this a great coup for us and the small and large companies we support.”

Reflecting on his appointment, Beer said this is an exciting time to be returning to the METS sector and he is looking forward to being able to support the METS and mining sectors through the industry growth centre.

“I am very impressed with what METS Ignited has already achieved and I am very excited by the opportunity to truly cement Australia’s position as a global hub for innovation in the METS sector,” he said.

Earlier this year, METS Ignited was awarded two more years of funding in recognition of the impact it is already having on individual METS companies and the Australia economy, it said.

METS Ignited backing analytics, automation and robotics technology developments

METS Ignited, an industry-led, Australia government-funded, growth centre for the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector, is making A$4 million ($2.8 million) available to companies focused on the application of analytics, automation and robotics in mining operations.

The investment is part of the fourth round of METS Ignited Collaborative Project Funds for METS solutions able to help demonstrate the productivity, competitiveness and innovative capacity of the sector in Australia.

METS Ignited Acting CEO, Ian Dover, said: “Australian METS companies have a long history of supplying reliable and innovative solutions to the mining sector. This round of funding is focused on accelerating the adoption of analytics, automation and robotics into Australian METS and mining with the objective of making a significant contribution to the economy and creating more jobs in our domestic mining supply chains.

“The time is now, for Australia to get ahead of the curve and make the most of our home-grown advantage.”

Round four of the Project Funds invites METS companies to collaborate with a minimum of two other METS companies and an end user, to deliver projects with real commercialisation potential, METS Ignited said.

Safescape, 3ME and Agrale’s Bortana electric vehicle ready for mine site trial

Safescape, 3ME Technology and Agrale are celebrating the launch of the new Bortana electric vehicle (EV), with the partners now preparing to dispatch a prototype for a three-month trial at a gold mine.

The launch, taking place at Mt Cotton Training Centre on May 24, followed a successful exhibition at the Austmine conference, in Brisbane, Australia, Safescape said.

The project, partly funded by Australia’s METS Ignited industry growth centre, has seen the three companies design a purpose-built battery electric utility vehicle for the mining industry that, METS Ignited says, offers a significant increase in sustainability and durability compared with the existing options.

The Bortana EV uses the chassis of a diesel-powered Agrale Marruá, electric technology from 3ME and Safescape’s design and engineering expertise.

3ME Technology CEO, Justin Bain, said a vehicle of this nature is needed in the Australian mining landscape.

“Vehicles used in underground Australian mining operations have faced issues of corrosion, durability and emissions for a long time – there is a sore need for a better solution.

“The BORTANA EV was developed for the harsh environments of Australian mine sites and we’re really excited to see this vehicle in action. We have focused on achieving the highest levels of safety and compliance whilst delivering superior performance and efficiency.”

The application of battery-electric vehicles in underground mining provides several key benefits over traditional diesel-powered engines, with the new vehicle producing minimal heat, minimal noise and, most importantly, no diesel particulate matter exposure for workers within confined spaces. “This also means reduced costs in ventilation and maintenance for mine operators,” METS Ignited said.

Supporting the Bortana EV during the launch was the Agrale Marruá with both a single- and dual-cab vehicle on display. This vehicle is traditionally used in the Brazil army and mining industry, with Safescape selecting the chassis due to its corrosion-resistant body and ability to withstand the harshest of conditions.

The vehicles are future-proofed; equipped for integration with current autonomous and future artificial intelligence developments, according to METS Ignited, which provided A$500,000 ($343,700) for the project under its Collaborative Project Funds, in 2018.

Following the three-month trial at the gold mine – which Bain previously confirmed to IM was Kirkland Lake Gold’s Fosterville operation in Victoria, Australia – the prototype will have further exposure to other mining companies and contractors, METS Ignited said.

“The trial will test the battery-electric vehicle’s ability to achieve mining duty cycles and provide superior drivability, safety, corrosion protection, reliability and maintainability in comparison with the current underground diesel light vehicle fleet,” Bain said back in January. “The EV will initially be integrated into the Fosterville fleet as a supervisor vehicle and undertake all tasks required by the diesel light utility vehicles. An operational risk assessment of the BORTANA EV has been conducted with Fosterville to ensure the vehicle will meet its mine site compliance requirements.”

METS Ignited General Manager Industry Engagement, Peter Clarke, said: “We are pleased to support 3ME Technology and Safescape in developing a great solution for Australian mining operations. The safety benefits and cost savings achieved by implementing these vehicles onsite will make a significant difference for miners.

“This is a great example of how funding and support for collaboration pays off for the sector.”

Safescape Managing Director, Steve Durkin, thinks the Bortana EV will offer the right mix of capability and longevity in the mining environment.

The lack of tail-pipe emissions, plus reduced heat generation are just some of the benefits underground mines are likely to realise with the use of the Bortana EV, he said.

“We believe that the Bortana EV will have a lower total cost of ownership than any other comparable production vehicle in the mining environment,” Durkin concluded.