The mining boom that has hit Australia over the last few years has without a doubt given rise to a whole new set of challenges within the industry. Environmental regulations have become especially strict around the globe, firmly backed by governments, environmental groups and unions. Large operators are under a microscope when it comes to the safety and environmental sensitivity of their efforts. Fortunately, this is an area Australia is leading.
“Mining has been a very controversial subject in Australia for many reasons,” says Robert Trzebski, Executive Officer of Austmine, the Australian mining equipment and services export association. “However, companies are very aware of the fact that they have to preserve their image, and in doing so, we've become experts in safe, efficient operations that take the environment into account.”
Leading the international growth of the country's mining equipment, technology and services sector (METS), Austmine focuses on harnessing its collective strength and creating enhanced opportunities for success in offshore markets. The organization is completely independent and self-funded, proudly representing around 150 members who collectively export approximately $6 billion in goods and services around the world.
“We export expertise to countries where community matters are on high alert like Peru, Columbia and parts of Asia,” says Trzebski. “Making mining environmentally friendlier and more efficient is the other big trend, and we focus on responding to those needs to preserve the image of a crucial global business.”
Representing leading companies in the field and constantly improving technological developments, Austmine's vision is for Australia to be “the world's number one supplier of innovative, efficient and safe mining equipment.”
“That vision may sound a bit ambitious and arrogant,” says Trzebski, “but we truly believe Australia has something remarkable to offer the world in this area.... providing niche solutions that respond to big demands and specific requirements of the industry.”
In general, Australian mining services are known around the globe for being particularly responsive and top-notch.
“Australian mining technology is very responsive and flexible to the needs coming from all corners of the world including mining operations, exploration, mine closure, etc.,” says Trzebski. “That's our strong point.”
Leveraging its strong reputation in the field, Austmine has an upper hand in raising the profile of its members on an international level. The company's quarterly Export News, sent to over 1,000 contacts around the globe, exposes member capabilities to overseas mining companies, showcasing some of the world's best technologies on the market. Similarly, Austmine's annual directory has become an essential reference for mining executives, procurement offices and purchasing divisions.
Every two years, the infamous Austmine Conference and Exhibition attracts a range of mining companies, METS suppliers and international visitors to discuss the latest trends and innovations in the industry.
“The principle idea is to showcase what Australia has to offer in terms of technology and services, showcasing them in real life scenarios,” says Trzebski.
As investors start looking at opportunities in Africa and Central Asia, Australia appears to be stepping up to the plate in terms of meeting the needs of the industry. The federal government, too, has started to pay more attention to the significance of the sector, which employs hundreds of thousands of people and represents nearly ten times the country's automotive and wine industries.
“Governments heavily subsidize the automotive industry, yet it's just a tenth of the overall mining technology and services sector,” says Trzebski. “We're talking about half a million people—that's a significant portion of the workforce.”
In order to preserve jobs in Australia and keep the country attractive to investors, Austmine has been breaking its back to inform decision makers of the dangers some of the current policies have created for the sector—an effort that will only grow stronger in the years to come.
“The next decade will be ambitious and the industry will be exposed to a lot of fluctuations,” says Trzebski. “But I see Australia becoming a leading nation in terms of supplying smart, efficient and safe solutions around the world.”