The university said the partnership will assist Vale with the education and training of its staff.
The partnership agreement covers five new research projects aiming to advance coal mining techniques.
UQ vice-chancellor professor Paul Greenfield said the university looked forward to delivering sustainable outcomes for the Australian and overseas communities where Vale has operations.
“UQ's contributions will include enhancing the expertise of Vale staff and conducting research that will address community, environmental and industry challenges,” he said.
“UQ students are already benefiting from our links with Vale, and a number of talented geophysics students who will graduate this month have been recruited by the company.”
The university will be in an even stronger position to help the major Brazilian iron ore producer continue its foray into coal next year when it becomes the only Australian university to offer Portuguese in its official languages program.
Vale global coal managing director Decio Amaral said the partnership will deliver direct benefits to workers at its Carborough Downs and Integra mines.
“This research capability enables us to benefit from the vast experience and expertise of the academics at UQ, who are world leaders in coal geosciences,” Amaral said.
He added the partnership will help Vale expand its Australian operations through organic growth of its existing mines, plus the opening of new mines.
“In order to meet our projected growth, Vale will be significantly increasing its workforce operations over the next four years.
“The training program will help us meet our skills and capability requirements in Australia and internationally.
“The mining and resources sectors in Australia are exceedingly competitive. This investment in training and education will enable us to start developing our existing and future employees now.”
Amaral said the five research projects will focus on an existing and specific area of improvement identified in its coal operations.
The five projects are:
- Origins of spatial variability in coal seam gas and drainage behaviour;
- Geological controls on phosphorus, sulfur and alkali occurrence – implications for beneficiation;
- Depositional and structural controls on ground conditions and coal quality;
- Optimisation of seismic reflection technologies for structural and geological characterisation; and
- Tectonic Influence on location and styles of sediment accumulation in the Karoo coal measures, Mozambique.
“The outcomes of this research are expected to result in significant advancements in Vale's coal mining techniques in Australia and around the world,” Amaral said.
“This knowledge-based approach is part of Vale’s global commitment to continuous improvement and excellence in mineral resources extraction.”
Vale also recently teamed up with the university to undertake detailed community analysis of the central Queensland and Hunter Valley areas it operates in to develop social investment plans in the areas of infrastructure and public management along with human and economic development.
Vale is aiming to reach 40 million tonnes of coal production and 450Mt of iron ore output by 2014-15, according to comments made by chief financial officer Guilherme Cavalcanti reported in the Metal Bulletin.
New Australian projects on the card include the Ellensfield longwall project in Queensland, north of its closed Broadlea mine in the Bowen Basin.
This project is targeting 5Mtpa and a mine life of 20 years. The company plans to begin construction late next year, with first longwall coal in 2014.
Vale also has its Degulla project in the Galilee Basin, with exploration aiming to prove up a possible 20-40Mtpa operation.
Meanwhile, the Eagle Downs and Belvedere projects it shares with Aquila Resources are both tied up in separate legal disputes.