Newcastle Uni secures mining research funds

The University of Newcastle has been granted more than one million dollars to develop new mining technology.

The $1.3 million Linkage Program grant from the Australian Research Council will fund investigation into a number of mining products.

These projects include $560 000 to develop new planning tools to maximise the value of blended mineral products such as coal and iron ore in the mining supply chain; $230 000 to enhance carbon removal in secondary steel refining; and half a million dollars to develop new explosives to reduce nitrogen oxide gases during blasting.

According to the University, the blasting technology aims to limit the formation of post blast fumes, making the process safer for blasters.

Blasting has come under increased scrutiny following a serious of blast fume events in Queensland, where miners were exposed to toxic fumes after carrying out blasting.

These events have driven the creation of a steering committee to develop a new set of blasting guidelines in the State.

The Hunter Valley has also seen uproar over blasting dust plumes, which were feared to be toxic.

However, the plumes themselves were caused by wet earth being thrown into the air during blasting, and were found to be safe, although dusty.

This event, at Xstrata’s Bulga coal mine, has seen the miner trialling new blasting products that reduce fumes in wet conditions.

Acting deputy vice-chancellor, professor Scott Homes, said these projects will build on the University’s track record of research.

“These latest projects will ensure that we remain at the forefront of research and development of technology that addresses the needs of industry and boosts sustainability and efficiency,” Holmes said.

This funding follows the creation of the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER), which brings together the University’s energy and resources researchers.

“By collaborating with industry, NIER aims to deliver solutions to global problems and contribute to the sustainability of resources and the environment,” he said.

“It is a pivotal time for the energy and resources sector and NIER is perfectly positioned to work with industry and government.”

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