New research consortium boost to mining sector

resourcesAdvanced technologies, including the Industrial Internet of Things, will be used by a new research consortium being launched today to help boost South Australia’s copper production and develop a globally competitive mining technology services sector in the state.

Led by the University of Adelaide, the $14.6 million Research Consortium – Unlocking Complex Resources through Lean Processing – brings together a range of mining sector and research partners, supported by $4 million over four years from the State Government’s Research Consortia Program.

“One of the key challenges facing the mining industry is the variability in the ore body being mined,” says Professor Stephen Grano, Director of the University of Adelaide’s Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources, and Director of the new Consortium.

“We’ll be developing advanced technologies to tailor the mining and processing options to the specific characteristics of the mineral ore in real-time – an approach known as lean processing.

“The key will be integration of data from when the resource is still in the ground, right through the mining and processing stages. We’ll be using data analytics and machine learning, enabling the whole system to be optimised rather than optimising isolated parts.”

South Australian Minister for Industry and Skills the Hon. David Pisoni says: “This project is a great example of researchers, industry, manufacturers, and start-ups working together to apply new industrial Internet of Things technology to drive innovation and increase the productivity of our resources sector.”

One of the first steps will be the establishment of a secure data room within the University’s School of Computer Science with direct data feeds from sensors set up within existing commercial mining operations. That will allow analysis in real time and in comparison to historical data.

Within the first 18 months, the consortium aims to be able to justify the capital cost of a system of conveyor belt sensors to allow mass ore sorting; and, in another project, to have set up a working system of sensors installed within grinding mills to maximise throughput while still meeting product specifications.

University of Adelaide Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Mike Brooks says: “By bringing together industry partners with university research expertise we are able to leverage the great strengths of each partner to address these significant industry challenges.

“These outcomes will enable more sustainable mining and reduced environmental impacts.

“But it won’t be just the mining industry that will benefit. A key outcome will be commercialising technologies for new global market opportunities – that means growth and new jobs for the State,” Professor Brooks says.

The other Consortium industry, government and supporting partners are: BHP, OZ Minerals, AMIRA International, Australian Information Industries Association (AIIA) IoT Cluster for Mining and Energy Resources, Australian Semi-Conductor Technology Company, Boart Longyear, Consilium Technology, CRC Optimise Resource Extraction, Datanet, Data to Decisions CRC, Eka, Innovyz, Magotteaux, Manta Controls, Maptek, METS Ignited Industry Growth Centre, Mine Vision Systems, Rockwell Automation, SACOME, SAGE Automation, Sandvik, Scantech, South Australian Mining Industry Participation Office (SA MIPO), SRA IT and Thermo Fisher Scientific Australia (Processing Instruments & Equipment), with the University of South Australia as a key research partner.

The Consortium partners acknowledge also the financial support of the South Australian Mining and Petroleum Services Centre of Excellence.

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