IBM launches mining development centre

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IBM launches mining development centre

WA centre chases the mining dollar.

IBM is planning a July launch for its Perth-based Natural Resource Solutions Centre (NRSC), where it will develop solutions and strategies for mining, LNG & petroleum industries.

Forty staff have already been recruited for the centre, which will also be attached to the 150 employees at IBM's Australian Development Lab on Perth's Hay Street.

The announcement follows nearly 12 months of planning, with the NRSC's "key people and infrastructure" - including eight "top global subject matter experts" - now in place.

The experts were relocated to Perth, which IBM identified as an "obvious growth market" in view of Australia's resources boom.

"Western Australia is the most remote resources market on the planet and is arguably the centre of the world mining and LNG industries," said IBM's industry solutions executive David Haake, who relocated from the US for the NRSC.

"That makes the region an obvious growth market for IBM in terms of where we see opportunity for our unique expertise and solutions," he told iTnews.

IBM's Perth NRSC is its sixth global 'Centre of Excellence' (CoE) with a focus on LNG and upstream petroleum operations, and the first with a focus on the mining industry.

Rather than off-the-shelf products, the NRSC is expected to develop custom solutions that reduce costs, create efficiencies, and improve workplace health and safety through integrated operations and asset lifecycle management.

The company also plans to tackle production optimisation, carbon management and containment solutions.

Haake highlighted the IBM Information Integration Framework as an example. The middleware solution was developed in what he said was IBM's largest CoE for oil and gas in Norway for energy company Statoil, and can now be adapted for new environments and use cases.

In Australia, IBM hopes to attract local clients, industry partners and tertiary institutions to its NRSC. It has commenced discussions with Honeywell Process Solutions and the Western Australian Energy Research Alliance between CSIRO, the University of WA and Curtin University.

Prior to the launch, IBM will be fitting out the NRSC office, and upgrading current premises to create a collaborative space for the centre's work.

It is also recruiting for 30 new positions and plans to recruit at the same rate per quarter for the rest of the year, although "client demand will ultimately dictate growth", Haake said.

"We are effectively operational, but the real estate aspect is important because as a collaborative centre, we need the space and facilities to host our collaborators, including clients and partners, for months at a time," he told iTnews.

"This is the kind of work that needs to be done in person, face to face, in teams, which is why we're creating an actual centre, not just a virtual facility."

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