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Mining tech heads for the stars as IMDEX backs lunar rover project


Mining-tech leaders IMDEX — the company behind breakthrough drill and blast technology BLASTDOGTM — is backing development of an Australian-made lunar rover that NASA could send to the moon by 2026.

IMDEX is part of a group of companies supporting Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth (AROSE) that is looking to leverage autonomous technology prevalent in the mining sector for use in the space industry.

IMDEX is in advanced development of IMDEX BLASTDOGTM, a multi-sensor system that captures ore body knowledge from mine blast holes in real time to assist in efficient mine planning and production.

It is deployed on a semi-autonomous carrier and has the potential for specific application for the lunar rover project.

IMDEX Chief Executive Officer Paul House said the space industry was a natural extension of the expertise in automation and remote area operations that are the hallmarks of the Australian mining sector.

“Expanding IMDEX BLASTDOGTM and the technology underpinning it into the space industry is an exciting prospect,” Mr House said. “This is the type of technology that AROSE will examine.

“The AROSE project will also deliver insights on autonomous robotic operation, communication, and navigation that will benefit IMDEX and its mining industry clients.

“IMDEX is at the forefront of finding solutions for the mining sector; using that knowledge to provide answers for the space industry will be both rewarding and exhilarating.”

Recently, the Federal Government announced up to $50M will be made available under the Trailblazer program for an Australian made Lunar rover. This is part of the Federal Government’s Moon to Mar’s initiative, a $150 million investment over five years, administered by the Australia Space Agency.

The semi-autonomous rover will collect lunar soil, from which NASA will aim to extract oxygen. This is a key step towards establishing a sustainable human presence on the Moon for future missions to Mars.

AROSE has been awarded funding under the Demonstrator Feasibility Grant for Stage 1 of the Mission.

AROSE Consortium members will work on Stage 1, the concept and feasibility of the rover, over the next seven months.

IMDEX has provided sponsorship funding to support the first stage of the project.