Australia’s Innovation System

The Australian minerals industry recognises that innovation is crucial to improving productivity and cost competitiveness. Australia is a global centre of mining production, research and innovation, and its mining companies have long been among the largest business investors in Research and Development (R&D). Australia’s mining sector has increased R&D activity substantially over the last decade and currently spends around $4 billion per annum on R&D. This accounts for 22 per cent of all business R&D investment, with the mining sector’s contribution increasing by $265 million in 2012-13. As well as being central to the industry’s economic performance, innovation has been vital in meeting environmental and social stewardship responsibilities.

The mining industry is also a critical driver of the development of related industry sectors in Australia. Modern mining projects involve an enormous range of activities from exploration, resource assessment, site development, engineering design, construction, procurement and installation of plant, equipment and buildings. These projects often develop local transport and energy infrastructure. Ongoing operations require a diverse range of support services, most of which are sourced locally.

The minerals industry also engages directly with Australia’s university sector in a number of different ways. Through its Minerals Tertiary Education Council (MTEC), the MCA engages with 17 Australian universities to build capacity in higher education through national collaborative programs in the core disciplines of mining engineering, metallurgy and minerals geoscience. Whilst the key driver for the minerals industry’s investment of over $40 million in these core disciplines over the last decade has been to ensure supply of quality Australian graduates, MTEC indirectly engages with the academic workforce and their research activities in these highly specialised disciplines.

The development of a vibrant, home-grown mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector also exemplifies the central role of mining in Australia’s economic, industrial and technological development.2 Survey estimates suggest that the METS sector generates revenues of around $90 billion annually with an export component worth $15 billion per annum (larger than the automotive industry).

Download complete article