Constant innovation the outcome of R&D focus

QUEENSLAND’s mining industry spent $217 million on research and development in 2001-02; more than 40% of Australia’s total minerals research spend, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Staff Reporter

The state’s mining sector accounted for 42% of all research carried out in Queensland by all industries. Australia-wide, the mining industry spent more than half a billion dollars on research and development, 10% of Australia’s total expenditure.

‘Many people have the misconception that miners just keep on doing what they have always done – dig and export,’ said Queensland Mining Council chief executive Susan Johnston.

‘The reality is that the Queensland mineral resources sector is an industry constantly focussed on smarter exploration, smarter mining, and smarter processing - we have to be if we are to continue to compete internationally and to improve our performance in the areas of environmental management and workplace health and safety.

‘It’s not broadly appreciated, but innovations take place on a daily basis – in the field, at the minesite, and in research laboratories.

‘Some of the unsung heroes of the industry are the mineworkers, and processing plant operators who, through their familiarity with day to day problems, are identifying smarter ways of doing things.’

Johnston said the Queensland Minerals industry funded a range of specific research projects and programs including the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP), which, along with co-contributors, committed $28 million to research funding for coal mines in 2001-02.

ACARP projects are being carried out at coal mines throughout the south east and central Queensland coal fields. Some of the longwall mining related projects currently under way in regional Queensland are:

· Newlands mine – development of a sensor that accesses the site of a possible heating via a borehole

· Kestrel and Crinum mines – effect of longwall mine subsidence on plan production on cropping and grazing land

· Moranbah North, Oaky No.1 – management of dust on longwall faces

Minerals industry companies also provide financial support to the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute which spans three divisions and five centres including Brisbane’s Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre. The Centre conducts research into mining, mineral processing and coal preparation.