Cobar has been earmarked to join a Silicon Valley-style central west/Orana region mining cluster.
Regional Development Australia Orana (RDA Orana) has a plan to unify the mining operations of the region and link them into their new Export Hub.
The Hub aims to identify commercial opportunities, facilitate an increase in investment and foster export openings for businesses in the region.
RDA Orana’s Export Hub project manager Andrew Foley was in Cobar last week to speak to local mining industry stakeholders,
Mr Foley said the central west/Orana region collectively has a very dense variety of mining operations located all in the one spot.
“We’ve got 33 mining operations in the Orana/central west region, that’s pretty significant and very unique.
“What we’re looking at is to form a collective body (cluster) with the Export Hub,” Mr Foley said.
A Federal Government Export Grant opportunity has allowed RDA Orana to develop their plan and last week they began talking to stakeholders through a series of mining, engineering, technology services (METS) industry consultations across the region.
Mr Foley said Cobar was chosen as
their “first cab off the rank” for METS discussions.
“We naturally chose Cobar because it’s a mining town that has lived through it all.
“We’ve brought in Clare Sykes (GM International Services for METS) who’s been in the mining industry all her life.
“She’s working with us to form the strategy that we’re going to build for the industry with Cobar being ‘ground zero’,” Mr Foley said.
More METS consultations are to take place in Mudgee, Dubbo, Parkes and Orange later this month.
“The Export Hub is really a final result but the mechanism to make that happen is to unify the mining operations,” Mr Foley said.
He said one of the aims of the Export Hub is to create and stimulate innovations.
“A lot of the time people have ideas but they don’t actually consider ‘Well is there a better way of going about it?’.
“They don’t have to be a lone wolf trying to develop something on their own but actually get the industry to support and champion them,” Mr Foley said.
“Our innovators don’t always have a test bed to try ideas out, especially if they’re coming from the outside in.
“So we’re opening up, not just the inside out but the outside in and make this an area like the Silicon Valley cluster (as an example) for the mining industry.”
Mr Foley said one of their goals was to help smooth out the ups and downs of the mining industry so operations were not relying entirely on boom and bust trends.
He said the idea has been done elsewhere in the world and has been very successful.
“We’re not reinventing something that hasn’t been done before, we’re just utilising elements and adapting it into here.
“I expect over the next few years something real ground breaking, someone will come up with something or a collective group will come up with something, that will make all the difference,” Mr Foley said.
Plans for the next six months of the Export Hub include connecting local businesses to existing services both domestically and internationally, supporting access to programs, and encouraging knowledge exchange.