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In Brief: Curtin builds mining links with Rio research

RIO Tinto has established a partnership with Curtin University to develop the mining giant’s second innovation centre, the Materials and Sensing Centre. Speaking to delegates at an iron ore conference in Perth, Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief Sam Walsh said the centre would complement work already being done at the first centre, the Rio Tinto Centre for Mine Automation. The first centre is a $21 million partnership with Sydney University and was announced last year. Mr Walsh said both Rio’s innovation arm and iron ore division would contribute to a funding package of $10.5 million over an initial five-year period. The centre will focus on Rio’s goal of an automated mine of the future using sensing technology and new materials. Funded by Rio, researchers at Curtin will be developing technology to achieve an automated mine. “The centre will lead the way for us in developing a step-change technology in the open pit mining industry and also in underground mining,” Mr Walsh told delegates. “Sensing is critical to the task of iron ore mining, governing how we go about grade and purity control, mining sequencing, equipment deployment or waste discrimination in the processing of ore.” New developments in the field will change the way Rio can deploy equipment, increase energy efficiency and improve maintenance performance, Mr Walsh added. The centre will be led by Dr Vladimir Golovanevskiy who has extensive experience in materials research, including the Mir-10 space program, and access to an extensive global network of experts in the field. Meanwhile, Curtin has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA to foster collaboration in education and research programs. “CME has been facilitating collaboration between universities and industry for several years and this MOU marks a critical step forward in providing tangible outcomes for both the industry and Curtin University,” the chamber’s chief executive Reg Howard- Smith said. “Areas of strategic interest under the MOU will be indigenous education, research and development, addressing skill and labour shortages and ensuring the long term viability of technical education in Australia.’’

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