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WA government and Austmine launch digital mining export hub

The Western Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister officially launched the inaugural Austmine WA METS Digital Mining Export Hub in Port Hedland on 4 September 2020. The Hub putting Western Australia’s Mining Equipment, Technology and Services sector in the spotlight.

The virtual hub will enable the State to build export capacity, knowledge and opportunities between regional, remote and metropolitan small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The launch featured the first of a series of outreach activities designed to engage with the 1,700 METS businesses throughout the State. This includes mapping the SMEs’ METS capabilities in WA, developing an Austmine export strategy, capability-development programs and promoting WA METS to the world.

The virtual hub aims to initially provide services in Port Hedland, Karratha, Newman, Kalgoorlie and Bunbury. METS businesses are a vital part of the resource sector supply chain and contributed an estimated $27 billion to the WA economy in 2018-19.

The WA Government has committed $350,000 and in-kind support worth $50,000, through Invest and Trade WA, to establish this initiative.  The Mines and Petroleum Minister stated that the launch of Austmine’s WA METS Digital Mining Export Hub is ground-breaking for the local METS sector and a fantastic result for Western Australia.

He noted that Western Australia’s mining technology is world-leading, and the hub will enable these local companies to provide their services across the globe. The export hub will not only be vital in supporting the State’s recovery, post-COVID-19 but will also be a boost to jobs and in the state’s local economies.

The Pilbara MLA stated that the establishment of the Hub was an exciting announcement for mining, equipment, technology and services companies in the Pilbara region. There’s no better time than now to identify new export opportunities for the sector, and use Western Australia’s digital capability to strengthen our economy.

WA is the world’s top mining destination

According to another article, the resource-rich Western Australia has been picked the most attractive region for mining investment in 2019, the latest annual survey of mining companies by a Canadian public policy think tank shows.

The Australian state, which is home to almost 130 export-oriented mining projects and hundreds of smaller quarries and mines producing over 50 different commodities, had ranked second in 2018. In August 2020, the Premier of Western Australia and the Mines and Petroleum Minister committed an additional $5 million for the Exploration and Incentive Scheme (EIS) and the provision of $3.2 million for a new ion microprobe for Curtin University.

The investment, which forms part of the WA Recovery Plan, will boost exploration opportunities and provide next-generation geoscience information for Western Australia’s resources sector. The EIS supports five high-level programs, including the successful co-funded drilling program, which offers up to a 50% refund for innovative drilling in under-explored areas in WA. The additional $5 million will increase funding for the EIS to $15 million in 2020-21, resulting in an extra $3 million which is available across the next two co-funded drilling rounds.

The funding will accelerate the acquisition of airborne electromagnetic data from the southern half of the State, which is testing for the presence of critical battery minerals (such as nickel) and water. Curtin University, in Bentley, has a 27-year-old ion microprobe that previously provided valuable data about the timing of mineralising events, but it is no longer fully operational.

State funding of $3.2 million will enable Curtin to secure $5 million in Commonwealth funding to purchase a new CAMECA-1300 Ion Microprobe, which will be an Australian first. In addition to its geoscience applications, the instrument will be used to support the Australian Space Agency’s interest in increasing Australian participation in international deep space sample return missions.

The Premier noted that the flow-on effect from this additional investment in exploration and technology will result in drilling companies deploying more rigs and workers, and lead to new resource discoveries.”

The Mines and Petroleum Minister had said that the new ion microprobe instrument is next-generation, it will be an Australian-first and one of only five in the world. It will revolutionise their understanding of how and when Western Australia’s key mineral deposits formed.

The resources industry is already a world-leader in technology and research; having access to the Ion Microprobe will provide the State with a unique technological advantage to discover the next generation of resources. Interestingly, the Ion Microprobe has potential applications well beyond the resources sector, such as understanding the formation of our solar system.


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