Software gold mine for SA

By Lana Guineay

All over the globe, natural resources companies are striving to be more streamlined, safe, and sustainable. Technology is a powerful tool to get there, providing a huge opportunity to smart start-ups and innovative IT – local software provider SRA is ready for the challenge.

The SA-based company has just been awarded a second round of funding through South Australia’s Mining and Petroleum Services Centre of Excellence (CoE) for their ground-breaking software platform, AOC, geared towards the natural resources sector.

“There’s never been anything like this before,” says Tim Chopping, Executive Manager of Sales and Marketing.

The cloud-based software is a one-stop platform to ensure natural resources companies are meeting a range of environmental, community, and sustainability regulations. The Adelaide-developed program is poised for global expansion, positioning SRA as a leader in the field.

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Established in South Australia in 1992, SRA has grown to more than 100 staff with offices in Darwin, Canberra, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, Singapore and Houston, with the head office in Adelaide.

The beauty of being an IT business means they can be “highly mobile”, says Tim. “We have a delivery pool of consultants, so we can build a project team and deliver our services where ever the clients are.”

While SRA has a strong background in software monitoring environmental and sustainability – the AOC platform is something new.

“It’s a much bigger brief,” says Tim. “Anyone in the natural resources industry has more than just environmental obligations. There are health and safety regulations as well as answering and reporting to land holders, government, communities, shareholders…it’s not just as simple as digging a hole!”

On top of all that, big players have multiple assets to look after – from an oil well in Texas to a mine in regional South Australia – each with its own jurisdictions, communities and governments.

“Our mission is to provide solutions that enable our clients to achieve efficient resource use, fulfil their regulatory obligations, manage risk and ultimately demonstrate their credentials as good corporate and global citizens. AOC will enable clients to realise this by maintaining and protecting their operational and social licences.”

Traditionally, reporting across these multiple areas has been siloed, and often completely manual, with different staff and software for each. “There are systems that are good at individual tasks, but there hasn’t been a national or international standard. There’s never been one way to manage everything in one product before.”

The AOC platform brings it all together.

“Our idea is to work with regulators and communities to develop a smart system that automatically processes everything; from application paperwork to reporting. So if a business wants to build a new asset, expand an existing asset or simply manage their various corporate and regulatory requirements and make sure they’re complying with all obligations, AOC manages and streamlines the entire process. So instead of buying eight different products and increasing costs, you can configure the platform for multiple sites in multiple countries – so customers can configure one part for New Mexico, another for South Australia.”

In the first six months working on the platform, SRA gained five new clients worth more than $1.3 million, as well as more than $800,000 in sales to pre-existing clients in Tier 1 Mining, Oil and Gas, and Resources.

Now thanks to a second grant of $200,000 from the Mining and Petroleum Services CoE, SRA are taking the platform to the next level, which will ensure both South Australian growth as well as export opportunities with clients running multi-jurisdictional operations in Australia and further afield.

The team are now heads down, working on research and development and rolling out the new program, with up to a dozen new jobs to help bring the project to fruition and for post-launch support.

Tim says the funding will allow SRA to take the platform to market rapidly by accelerating both development and commercialisation. “Our small firm from Adelaide has a beautiful window to go first to market. It’s an exciting time.”