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MEI Online: General Minerals Engineering: Latest News: November 10th 2005


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:: New National Science Group gets Green Light

A new science group, the Australian Mineral Science Research Institute 'AMSRI' is about to become reality, signaling Australian Government and international industry support for fundamental research to be conducted by a consortium of Australia’s best scientists working in mineral industry-related fields.

Research funding was officially announced on Wednesday 9 November 2005 as part of the latest round of Australian Research Council grants, and is the largest ever ‘Linkage’ grant awarded by the Council.

The ARC linkage grant totals AUD $8.6 million, with significant matching funds of AUD $7.5 million coming directly from the minerals industry, AUD $2.5 million from the South Australian Government and a further combined AUD $4 million from The University of Queensland, University of Melbourne, University of Newcastle and the University of South Australia.

The collaborative initiative to establish AMSRI was first proposed by the four key research providers to the minerals industry in March 2002, for support in securing an ongoing minerals research capacity in Australia. The project was coordinated by AMIRA International, an independent association of minerals companies created to develop, broker and facilitate collaborative research projects around the world.


AMSRI’s founding Director Professor John Ralston is pictured here at the JKMRC in Brisbane earlier in 2005 putting together the final AMSRI submission to the ARC. AMSRI is a new science institute which will provide fundamental research for the minerals sector and broader industrial processes.


The creation of AMSRI is significant on several important levels for Australian industry and the Australian community as a whole.

One of AMSRI’s principal architects, former JKMRC Director Professor Tim Napier-Munn, now with the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute, said he envisaged AMSRI would quickly become the Australian centre of a global research network: "AMSRI is genuinely unique, there is nothing like it in the world."

He said AMSRI’s research program will underpin future technologies to keep the minerals industry sustainable well into this century: "The major themes of the research are energy efficiency, frugal water use and efficient management of waste. The underlying particle science and engineering will have implications for many other industries."

Among the industries likely to benefit from AMSRI research are mining and minerals processing, pharmaceuticals, surface coating, food and printing.

AMSRI will officially commence on 1 January 2006 and be led for its first five years by Professor John Ralston of the University of South Australia’s Ian Wark Research Institute.

Professor Ben Adair, Director of the University of Queensland’s Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC) will lead several key AMSRI projects.

The JKMRC is one of four AMSRI research partners and will provide significant expertise to the new Institute through its research base of mineral processing and mathematical modeling.

Professor Adair said the creation of AMSRI would lead to a paradigm shift in the industry’s thinking on efficient, sustainable mining and mineral processing, and would ultimately transform the Australian and international mining industry.

"The ARC linkage grant means we can bring together four large research teams with specialist skills in many areas," he said.

Professor Adair also said the current skills shortage issue would be partly addressed with AMSRI’s recruitment of at least nineteen PhD students during its first few years of operation.

"Although the Institute will have a national focus, much of the research activity will take place in Queensland," he said.

"We have a unique skills base of minerals industry researchers in Queensland. The challenge for JKMRC and the new Institute is to build a critical mass of researchers in the state and to ensure state-of-the-art facilities are provided to conduct world-class research."

The AMSRI partners are:

Research: JKMRC, University of Queensland; Particulate Fluids Processing Centre, University of Melbourne; Centre for Multiphase Processes, University of Newcastle; Ian Wark Research Institute, University of South Australia.

Industry: Anglo Platinum, BHP Billiton, Orica, Phelps Dodge, Rio Tinto, Xstrata Technology

Industry Coordinator: AMIRA International




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