A recent South Australian program is helping to foster significant development in mining technology.
Launched in November 2021, Thinking Critical South Australia aims to uncover innovative and creative individuals and companies who can boost the state’s mineral capabilities. The Department for Energy and Mining South Australia partnered with Unearthed Solutions to create this crowdsourcing challenge, and it has already resulted in several major developments in the mining sector.
Diamonds in the rough
Each year, companies compete in Thinking Critical South Australia to demonstrate how their idea is a valuable investment for the development of the mining industry.
Although it has only been live for two years, the competition has already reached 200 participants and resulted in 40 unique proposals.
The first round of the challenge involves the judging panel selecting 11 shortlisted teams, who then go on to develop and present their proposal plan. From these proposals, five winning groups are chosen.
Each of the lucky winners receives a $50,000 prize, as well as support in business development through specialist advice and marketing opportunities. The aim is to help these businesses turn their pitches into viable products which can be used to support South Australia’s booming mining industry.
A state of surplus
South Australia is a ‘gold mine’ of critical minerals. It is home to 65 per cent of Australia’s graphite resources, as well as the world’s biggest zircon mine.
Already, the state has invested significant resources into exploring and extracting these minerals. It established the Australian Critical Minerals Research Centre in the University of Adelaide, the first of its kind in the country. In fact, most South Australian universities are at the top of the game when it comes to geoscience and resource processing.
It’s no surprise then that the government is eager to hone the technology employed in mining ventures. By supporting these start-ups, they are investing in increased capabilities and efficiency. There is also a large focus on businesses who offer solutions for environmental protection, meaning the planet is a priority as well.
Ingenuity and imagination
Last year, five well-deserving companies took home the prize, and already, they are making waves.
This includes businesses such as QL Space. Based in Perth, their idea stemmed from a desire to improve exploratory drilling using artificial intelligence (AI), satellite images and sensors. These tools allow the company to interpret the collected data and produce structural and geological maps that can help mines target rich deposits. They can also improve efficiency by monitoring the supply chain and providing suggestions.
Another winner changing the game is CBSM Mining Services, who have created the South Australian dry and wet comminution technology. Their invention is called the Gyratory Rolls Crusher (GRolls), a machine that can operate in dry or wet conditions to break down geological materials into fine and ultra-fine particles while reducing power and water consumption. This means it is better for the environment and isn’t impacted by the conditions of the mine. Workers can save energy and time when working with this prototype.
Thinking Critical South Australia is still a relatively new initiative. However, it demonstrates Australia’s commitment to sourcing new technologies and programs that could improve the efficiency of our mines, while also protecting our precious environment. With new start-ups continuing to emerge, it will only be a matter of time before the next round of winners emerge to support mining in South Australia.
To discover more mining events in Australia, click here.