METS technology company exchange program launched

Ric Gros, Chief Executive Officer, METS Ignited Australia Ltd

METS Ignited is working closely with Austrade and Fundacion Chile to develop a ‘passport’ that will help Australian and Latin American mining technology companies gain international exposure and cross pollinate ideas.

The ‘METStech Passport’ is an exchange and collaboration program that will facilitate international expansion.

The program is the first of its kind between Australia and Chile, allowing mining equipment, technology and services (METS) tech start- ups and scale-ups to obtain direct exposure to the mining industry and to commercialise their ideas, in both their home country and abroad.

It was first launched at IMARC (International Mining and Resources Conference) in Melbourne late last year by Deputy Chair of METS Ignited Elizabeth Lewis-Gray, the Vice President of Sustainability and New Business of Fundacion Chile, Andres Pesce and the CEO of the Australian Trade and Investment Commission Dr Stephanie Fahey.

"METS Ignited is committed to fostering ways to assist METS companies and miners to collaborate towards common goals and create step-changes within the mining innovation ecosystem,” Ms Lewis-Gray said.

“Collaboration underpins the continued success of the Australian METS and mining sectors," she said.

"Chile is a country of strategic importance to Australia's mining industry. We share many common challenges allowing our METS companies to look for opportunities over the border."

METStech Passport is the Australian Trade and Investment Commission's (Austrade) second LATAM ecosystem-linking program built from the successful Agtech Passport launch in March 2017.

The program is designed to encourage collaboration between two mining innovation platforms within the METS sector to build on each countries' expertise, promote cross-pollination of ideas and synergies to address common challenges.

The program will send Australian start-ups to Chile, for an immersion in the host country's mining tech and start-up ecosystem.

"This new partnership will create access for Australian METStech companies to Chile's important mining market and create a pathway for increased exports of technological knowhow, it will also allow a very important opportunity for collaboration between Chilean and Australian METStech companies leading to better solutions for the mining industry and business migration," Austrade CEO Dr Stephanie Fahey said.

"This innovation space between two mining giants responds to the great prospects that exist in fostering collaboration and international growth. Austrade can further enable this sector, and many others, by encouraging and

facilitating dialogue, providing market insights and intelligence and promotion of qualified opportunities," she said.

Mining is a vital part of Chile's economy, accounting for 11 per cent of GDP. Likewise in Australia, mining makes up 7 per cent of GDP, with the METS sector contributing $86 billion of GVA.

Andres Pesce, Fundacion Chile's Vice President of Sustainability and New Business said Chile and Australia's mining industries face common challenges that can only be addressed by innovation.

“The program places cross border cooperation as a central element of an open innovation approach that seeks not only to solve the industry's challenges but especially develop a strong global METS network that will benefit the economy as a whole," Mr Pesce said.

A call will go out to METS tech companies to participate in the exchange this year.

To find out more about the 2018 METStech Passport program, contact Shannon Powell at Austrade:

Open-pit mine

About METS Ignited

Australia’s METS sector is globally connected and financially robust. Contributing $86 billion to the Australian economy and supporting half a million jobs, the METS sector plays a significant role in the nation’s prosperity.

The Australian Government has established Growth Centres in six sectors. These Growth Centres, including METS Ignited, are front and centre of Australia’s innovation policy. The METS sector has been chosen because the government recognises its composition of agile entrepreneurial SMEs, global competitiveness and growth potential based on Australia’s recognised research capabilities and scale, and its leading-edge mining sector.

Over 55 per cent of Australian METS companies are exporters and many are world leaders in their markets. Further, the emerging Industry 4.0 will provide a new wave of opportunities for the METS sector. It is the role of METS Ignited to work closely with industry to increase collaboration, implement initiatives that will accelerate the co-commercialisation of innovation, and leverage industry initiatives to grow exports.

About Fundacion Chile

Fundacion Chile is a private non-profit organisation that fosters innovation.

About Expande

The Open Innovation Program in Mining, Expande is a public-private collaborative model that promotes the development of high-potential solutions from technology- based companies and connects them with the challenges facing the mining industry of today and tomorrow. Its long-term vision was defined in the Mining Technology Roadmap 2015-2035, coordinated by Fundacion Chile and articulated by the Alta Ley National Mining Program from Transforma-Corfo and seeks to become a fundamental pillar for the development of technology suppliers from and to the industry.

Mining is red hot in Chile - join us for Expomin 2018

Shannon Powell, Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner

In just six months we've gone beyond green shoots in Chile's mining industry to a sector that is absolutely buzzing with activity. Production has recommenced, M&A's are rife, the investors have come back, the copper price keeps increasing and the world has gone crazy for electric vehicles (requiring lithium), which together with a change of Government has made Chile red hot for mining once again.

President elect Sebastian Pinera had mining at the center of his campaign, as a crucial driver of Chile's economy, with a program of measures designed to increase competitiveness and productivity. The mining industry has responded well to this, and the big mining houses are reactivating projects and releasing previously frozen budgets.

At our Austrade office in Santiago, we are working on Australia's presence at Expomin 2018 — by far the region's largest mining show. We are excited to be partnering with many Australian stakeholders to make this our best show yet, including METS Ignited, Austmine and the State Governments of Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. Together, we will be presenting the "Australian Mining Innovation hub", which will showcase the best of Australian METS and mining innovation.

As a hotspot for that innovation, Australia is a recognized leader globally and Expomin 2018 gives us a chance to present to key local mining stakeholders, not only from Chile, but from around the region – including Argentina, Peru and Colombia.

Our program of activities will include daily briefings with key customers, briefings with mining officials from other LATAM countries, pitch sessions for Aussie companies, networking events and of course, what we at Austrade are best known for, tailored one-on-one meetings with decision makers.

We invite you to join us for a great show, April 23-28, there are many options available to be part of the Australian cohort, including "Prospectors", "Drillers" and "Investors" depending on your level of engagement in market. Further detail is in the event brochure and you can visit our site to register at

Sustainable mining leadership and education in LATAM

Austrade held its first sustainable mining workshop in Colombia in partnership with Orica, an ASX- listed multinational specialising in commercial explosives and blasting systems for the mining industry.

The workshop, which was held in Medellín in November 2017, focused on alternatives to the use of mercury in mining. Attendees included international mining industry specialists, as well as representatives from government agencies.

Participants also learnt more about the soon-to-be-established Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Mining — a joint venture between Sustainable Minerals Institute at The University of Queensland, CEIBA and the Colombian Mining Association. The Centre of Excellence is partly funded by a grant from DFAT’s Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR).

The workshop was initiated by Her Excellency Sophie Davies, Australia’s first resident Ambassador to Colombia, and was the Ambassador's first official event in Colombia. It linked industry and education — sectors that do not traditionally collaborate in Colombia, with Australia facilitating the joint effort.

In brief

Renewable energy in Argentina: trends and opportunities

Energy demand in Argentina is on the rise. Since 2000, natural gas consumption has grown 40 per cent, electric energy use climbed 60 per cent and fuel use increased 150 per cent.

Forecast growth of Argentina’s economy is expected to sustain the expansion rate of industrial and residential energy demand for the foreseeable future, according to the Argentine Trade and Investments Agency.

Opportunities exist for Australian companies with expertise in renewable energy. The Argentinian Government has set ambitious targets to increase the proportion of renewable energy in the nation’s electric matrix.

Australia is considered a global leader in renewable energy research and development (R&D), technology, equipment and innovation.

Argentina’s geographical location and 4,700 kilometres of coastline makes it one of the most naturally suited on the planet for renewable energy generation, including solar, wind, ocean and tidal energy. The expanse of the territory and the wide biodiversity it contains provides natural capacity for alternative energies such as biogas, biomass and geothermal. Argentina is the world’s third largest producer of soybeans, making it a large producer and exporter of soybean biodiesel.

To learn more about market opportunities in Argentina’s renewable energy sectors, Austrade encourages Australian businesses to attend two annual conferences that bring together industry representatives to explore business opportunities – Renewable Energy Congress Argentina and AIREC (Argentine International Renewable Energy Congress).

Austrade Buenos Aires provides market intelligence and information as well as potential opportunities for Australian companies. Austrade leverages its expertise and badge of government to introduce Australian companies to its established networks in the local business community: government, potential partners, local suppliers, service providers such as law firms or accountants, and any other relevant contacts in the renewable energy sector.

Tropical medicine experts diagnosing deadly epidemics

Near the height of the Zika virus outbreak in LATAM in April 2016, a delegation of Australian experts in tropical medicine travelled to Brazil and Colombia to meet with local scientists.

Among the delegation arranged by Austrade was Associate Professor Joanne Macdonald, a molecular engineer from the University of the Sunshine Coast. Her invention may help save lives and ease the burden on clinicians during dengue and Zika epidemics.

Professor Macdonald develops point-of-care biosensors, similar to take-home pregnancy tests, to diagnose tropical diseases. These devices can rapidly detect the genomes of multiple diseases simultaneously, keeping costs down for diagnostic testing in areas where lots of diseases co-occur.

With $130,000 in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Professor Macdonald and her colleagues in Queensland are working on a proof-of-concept to test mosquitoes for malaria, dengue and chikungunya. The test will also detect the bacterium Wolbachia. When introduced into Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, this potential control agent has been found to prevent viruses, including dengue and Zika, from being transmitted to people.

Agtech startup wins LATAM exchange program funding

Shannon Powell Senior Trade Commissioner, Austrade Chile

WaterSave, a farm irrigation tech startup, was the Australian winner of the Agtech Passport – an exchange program designed to fuel the commercialisation of agtech ideas between Australia and LATAM.

Launched in March 2017, Agtech Passport is a partnership between the SproutX Accelerator and NXTP Labs, a LATAM early-stage venture fund. This groundbreaking initiative between Australia and Argentina was facilitated by Austrade, with the support of the Argentinian Government and Qantas.

The first exchange of its kind, the Agtech Passport program, which was awarded in December 2017, will help agtech companies gain international exposure, cross- pollinate ideas and facilitate international market entry. WaterSave was selected from a group of 11 Australian startups that went through the 2017 SproutX Accelerator.

WaterSave produces affordable, automated farm irrigation sensor technology, which has enabled power and water consumption to be reduced considerably on farms close to the Great Barrier Reef, resulting in economic and environmental improvements. The startup has a promising future ahead in Australia and in regions such as LATAM, which require agtech innovations to transform the industry and remain competitive on a global scale.

Agriculture is a vital part of Argentina’s economy, accounting for 11.4 per cent of GDP. Likewise in Australia agriculture is booming, with farm production increasing by 10 per cent to a record $62.3 billion in 2016–17. Argentina has considerable capacity to increase domestic production, but to do so, the country’s agricultural industry should consider implementing agtech innovations to help increase production while maintaining environmental benefits.

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Last Updated: 4 April 2018