How about those METS? Leveraging Australia’s mining equipment, technology and services sector

Executive summary

Mining has been an important part of the development of Australia, starting with the gold rushes of the mid-1800s. Its significance to future development relies not simply on growing demand for minerals and energy by emerging economies.

Download The mining industry has become an increasingly critical driver of industry development and innovation in Australia.

The development and success of Australia’s mining industry has long relied on technology and innovation. While innovation through adaptation has been a characteristic and a necessity, frontier developments can be found across geological mapping, exploration technologies, mining and metallurgy innovations, institutional innovation and supplier development.

This critical dimension of the story of Australian mining has been widely overlooked. In fact, Australia is a global centre of mining production, research and innovation and major mining companies have long been among the largest business investors in
research and development (R&D). The wider constellation of mining-related research and innovation organisations, and the links between them, have been characterised as a “dynamic minerals innovation complex”. This is an area of international strength in the national innovation system, not well recognised due to perceptions of mining as a “commodity” industry.

A view of mining as a low-technology industry, doomed to declining profitability and with few positive spillovers to the economy and society, has proven surprisingly seductive and resilient throughout Australia’s history. It seems related to a common misconception which sees mineral resources as simply there for the taking, somehow independent of the capacity to find, mine and use them – akin to gold nuggets on the surface of the ground.

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