New report identifies mining innovation opportunities

The new report, entitled Unlocking Australia’s resource potential, was prepared by CSIRO Futures, the organisation’s strategic advisory and foresight division, and was launched by CSIRO and the Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) Growth Centre at a recent mining and resources conference.

The report was based on interviews with 26 industry leaders from some of Australia’s largest minerals and energy companies, and included analysis of past case studies, an outline of current challenges and trends, and a list of factors that could improve innovation in the METS sector.

Dr Alex Wonhas, CSIRO’s executive director of environment, energy and resources, said many companies were struggling to realise full value from their innovation investments for a range of reasons, and that learning from the past could help the sector move forward.

“Our research shows that many of the same features that gave rise to past innovation successes are those identified by industry leaders as needed to break through existing barriers to innovation,” he explained.

“Strong collaboration, visionary leadership, measured risk-taking, perseverance and government participation were key ingredients of successful past innovation and may be even more important in the future.”

Key findings

Some of the report’s key findings were that the most successful innovators had a clear strategy that supported their business strategy and prioritised innovation investments across a portfolio; that resources sector innovations sometimes meant long incubation periods that could require early engagement and more than a decade of continuous investment; and that people and culture were vital to innovation success.

Stronger collaboration between METS companies, mining companies and research and development providers was also noted as being particularly important because it allowed risk to be shared across stakeholders, provided access to a wider range of capabilities and crossed conventional technology boundaries.

The report emphasised, however, that there was no “one size fits all” approach to delivering better innovation outcomes. “[Innovation] needs to be tailored to the unique needs of an individual company, taking into account both its strategy and tactical needs,” it stated.

The full report is available at

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