A UNIVERSITY of Queensland engineering and business graduate hopes to work on water conservation and sustainability in Australia’s booming mining industry.
Nadja Kunz, who recently graduated, has already been offered a position with Rio Tinto Aluminium and will commence work at the Yarwun refinery later this year.
She graduated with a dual degree with majors in chemical engineering (first class honours), and business management and organisations.
Kunz has worked for Rio Tinto during semester breaks, along with other companies including Visy Paper, BP and Incitec Pivot.
She also gained experience working part-time as a research assistant for UQ’s Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry (CWiMI).
While working for CWiMI, she was involved in research projects including assessing the amount of water consumed in mining and processing; looking at how increased production affects water balance at mine sites; and studying how landscape level planning has been applied throughout the Hunter Valley region.
“Ultimately, I’d like to use my degree to bring about positive change within the minerals industry and to inspire sustainability,” Kunz said.
“I believe that in the years ahead, the resources industry is going to be faced with a number of challenges like water scarcity and climate change.
As mining companies expand into developing countries, there will be a new set of challenges which will require a huge amount of community consultation.
“I hope to be involved in solving many of these complex issues throughout my career, by maybe working up to management in the minerals industry or by returning to study and taking on further research,” she said.
Kunz is also in the process of writing a joint academic paper with CWiMI Director Professor Chris Moran, which will be submitted later this year.
“The paper essentially considers how water can be managed in such a way as to minimise process risk while maximising sustainability benefits. Using a mine site as an example, we present a framework that may be used to assess the risks and rewards of investment in sustainability,” Kunz said.
Chairman of Thiess and Director of Leighton Holdings Martin Albrecht, AC, will also be awarded an honorary degree at the ceremony.
Albrecht is a civil engineer and was Managing Director of Thiess for 15 years.
Since his retirement, he has held positions on a number of boards, including Queensland Gas and the Siemens Australia Advisory Board.
Albrecht also has a passion for water conservation.
He is Chair of the International Riverfoundation and has been the driving force behind the prestigious National and International Theiss Riverprizes.
Albrecht has links with UQ and been involved in developing minerals industry water research at the University’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) and CWiMI.