Mining technology start-ups to share $21m

·2-min read

Australia's green bank is investing in mining technology start-ups to help more sites and processing operations to cut pollution.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) on Tuesday announced up to $21 million for Australian companies to develop and commercialise new ways to decarbonise mining.

Resources executive director Rob Wilson said the potential pipeline of investment targets will "recast" mining in Australia for the long term.

The mining, equipment, technology and services (METS) sector already contributes about 15 per cent of GDP and supports more than 1.1 million jobs - or one in 10 - including in regional and remote communities.

"The Australian METS sector is a global leader in developing and implementing such technologies, giving Australian miners a competitive advantage," Mr Wilson said.

However, the high energy intensity of mining, a heavy reliance on emissions-intensive fuels such as diesel and gas, and a lack of access to grid electricity have made it a challenging sector to decarbonise.

The agency will use private equity firm Resource Capital Funds to invest the money in mining innovation.

Fund spokesman Lyle Bruce said low-impact mining and mineral processing was possible with new technology.

"Mining now and into the future involves automation, robotics, predictive analytics, the internet of things - these are the emerging technologies mining is using to help us get to a low-emissions world," Mr Bruce said.

A recent report released by the CEFC on the "compelling case for decarbonisation" warned that mining operations that don't act to cut emissions could miss out.

As a large emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, the mining sector accounts for 9.5 per cent of national emissions.

Australia's green bank has already backed Pilbara Minerals' globally significant Pilgangoora lithium project in Western Australia and technology start-up Novalith.

The CEFC has also financed hydrogen-fuelled zero-emissions electric trucks being developed by Ark Energy in Queensland, and invested in Australian battery technology producer 3ME Technology to help miners replace diesel engines with cutting-edge battery systems.