UWA has teamed up with Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) in a new collaboration to help drive excellence in research for the mining and resources sector.
Students from two Chinese universities and Curtin joined UWA students to tour FMG’s mine sites, infrastructure and the remote Operations Control Centre for experience in the ‘real world’ of mining.
UWA Business Development and Innovation (BDI) Director Mark Stickells said the program provided an excellent opportunity for our young talent to bring together new ideas from their specialised fields, especially with FMG being among the top 100 graduate employers in Australia.
“Additionally, FMG’s initiative will further enrich cultural linkages between China and Western Australia and we look forward to seeing how our students can benefit industry with their expertise now and into the future,” he said.
Students were able to share their inventive ideas for improved safety, productivity and efficiency at an innovation workshop that concluded the week. This was a valueable experience for UWA participants Aida Carneiro and Amy Ware.
Mining Engineer PhD candidate Aida is conducting research focussed on the by-products left over from mining and extracting resources, known as tailings.
“I want to address the long-standing challenge of financially quantifying the true cost of tailings disposal. Cost comparisons should look beyond short-term expenses and consider environmental, social, risk and economic costs over the life of the mining project.
“During the tour we learnt about the entire process of mining iron ore – processing, sending it by train to Port Hedland and then shipping to China. This gave us the chance to think about how we can apply our research to their processes,” she said.
Amy, a PhD student in the field of Environmental Geochemistry, said she was impressed by the constant drive for innovation at FMG.
“Staff are empowered to think outside the box and asked to continually question ‘what did we do today that we can improve upon tomorrow?’ It was extremely motivational.
“Interacting with students from Central South University in Changsha and Lingnan College, Sun Yat-San University in Guangzhou helped us to learn from each other,” she said.
Mark said this is just one example of the strategic initiatives that UWA is driving to support industry engagement activities.
“The BDI team supports innovative engagement when it enriches the student experience and accelerates the impact of our world-class research,” he said.