Key Discussion Points

Gap 

Friday 17th August saw the coming together of industry, government and academia heads to discuss the future of Australian resources. As tighter environmental regulation intersects with emerging technologies, the resources sector is ripe for disruption. Drones, for example, will be instrumental in locating and mapping new deposits, while in-situ recovery presents unprecedented opportunities for more environmentally-friendly metal extraction. Lithium ion and hydrogen, meanwhile, have the potential to change the game fundamentally. A key talking point was the need for new business models that recognize and leverage these disruptive forces, to unlock the next phase of Australia’s resources narrative. There was broad agreement amongst attendees that value-adding, rather than extraction by itself, could be the next step in the evolution of our resources sector. The question then becomes – how do we expedite the growth of industries that export refined products rather than raw materials? The next roundtable to be held by Future Business Council, in conjunction with Monash Business School, will focus on the future of our financial services and investment markets.

 

Key Discussion Points

  • A dominant theme was the junction between emerging technologies and new business models in the resources sector
  • Drones will disrupt the industry by locating new deposits – there is an opportunity for Australia to lead the way in deploying drones to map the entire nation below the surface
  • In-situ recovery (ISR), an environmentally-friendly process by which metals are extracted from the ground with minimal disturbance to the surface environment, could be fundamental to the future of resources (but will require fracking in some circumstances)
  • The benefits of ISR and particularly fracking at odds with public sentiment…why?
  • Questioning the ‘perceived’ high costs of conducting business in Australia
    • Perceived higher costs attributed to stricter environmental regulation etc, but this minimizes risks in the long run
    • Compare our operational costs with the potentially seismic costs of doing business in a country plagued by political instability (political stability is a boon for Australian industry and for attracting investment)
    • Energy and labour costs could be mitigated through uses of new technologies and approaches (the Whyalla Steelworks case study)
  • Lithium Ion 
    • The value isn’t really in extraction, but in value-adding (how do we expedite the growth of industries that export valuable products rather than raw materials?)
    • This strikes at the heart of a recurring theme within the general discussion – what is Australia’s next niche in the resource sector? Can we build more niche (in a global sense, but significant in a domestic sense) industries?
  • Suitability of the national lens called into question
    • Australia does a lot of things better than other countries, but 
    • Challenges owning assets in some jurisdictions, but we can provide mining services
  • Observation; despite being resource-rich and water-poor, we export a lot of virtual water (eg the water used to produce products) but very little virtual energy – Hydrogen emerging as a significant export opportunity
  • We have to improve education so that we have well-informed public dialogue about these topics of national concern
  • There is a sense of inertia…how do we unlock that and drive new opportunity?

 

 

 

Gap 

Written by Gus 

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