Sep 16, 2016

Funds to advance mining and manufacturing technology

Funds to advance mining and manufacturing technology Associate Professor Michael Milford from the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision at QUT is leading a project to advance underground mining automation.

Work to assist the automation of underground mining and a project to expand on the opportunities coming out of incremental sheet forming have attracted funding under the $15 million Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships program.

State Development Minister Anthony Lynham said the government was investing in industry sectors with global growth potential – advanced manufacturing and mining technology – because they offered jobs of the future.

“Our support for these projects are examples of targeted government investment designed to nurture industry,” Mr Lynham said.

“This research work aligns with the work we are doing to generate jobs and business opportunities by making Queensland a leader in advanced manufacturing and mining technology.”

The two projects are:

  • $1.224 million for a University of Queensland project, led by Associate Professor Paul Meehan, to expand on the opportunities coming out of incremental sheet forming.
  • $428,240 for QUT to develop technologies that would ultimately enable the automation of underground mining vehicles.


Incremental sheet forming is an advanced manufacturing technique where a sheet is shaped into a product by a series of small incremental deformations. It has revolutionised sheet shaping since its inception in the 1990s, providing a cheap and effective alternative to sheet pressing and stamping, which can be cumbersome and expensive.

Incremental sheet forming can be applied to polymer and composite sheets as well as metal, meaning it has application for a range of industries, including marine, automotive, aircraft and biomedical.

The University of Queensland’s industry partner in the project is Boeing Research and Technology.

The QUT project will be led by Associate Professor Michael Milford from the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision, with international mining equipment manufacturer Caterpillar acting as an industry partner .

“One of the big issues they’ll have to face is how you deal with the harsh environment of underground mining as well as how you navigate vehicles through what can be a maze of tunnels,” Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said.

“The researchers will look to solutions based on developing a cost-effective, reliable camera-based positioning system for locating and tracking underground mining vehicles within 1m of accuracy as well as a sophisticated, multi-sensor system that provides centimetre-accurate positioning.”

Other funded research work includes a CQUniversity cleantech project, led by Professor Peter Wolfs and partnering with Griffith University and power electronics company Elevare Energy, which has been awarded almost $350,000 to look at improving the management of batteries in solar energy systems.

A project led by Professor Zhiguo Yuan from the University of Queensland will receive almost $680,000 to demonstrate at pilot scale a zero-energy sewage treatment technology.

Another University of Queensland project, this time led by Professor Brian Towler, will receive $175,000 to come up with reliable, cost-effective plugging and abandonment technology for the coal seam gas industry. Professor Towler and his research team will looking at using bentonite to fill plug former gas wells. 

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