16 June 2006

Researchers from The University of Queensland (UQ) will transform the future of the mining industry with the establishment of a $16 million minerals research facility.

The Minerals Characterisation Research Facility (MCRF) will be located at UQ’s Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC) and will be part of the University’s world-leading Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI).

The Queensland Government, through its Smart State Innovation Building Fund (SSIBF), today announced it will contribute $6.1 million to the MCRF project.

JKMRC Director Professor Ben Adair said the MCRF would develop technologies that would transform Queensland’s billion dollar mining industry, enabling it to get more out of current mineral reserves.

“Today mineral processing research is on the threshold of producing a critical mass of knowledge with the potential to create industry-transforming technologies,” Professor Adair said.

Professor Don McKee, Director of the SMI, said a sustainable and profitable mining and mineral processing industry is critical for Queensland’s economy, where minerals represent roughly half of overseas exports.

“The funding from the Queensland Government, along with the support of our industry partners, will guarantee UQ stays at the forefront of innovative and commercially-relevant research,” Professor McKee said.

“The MCRF will help increase the productivity of Queensland mining operations as well as sustain our international competitiveness.”

MCRF partners include Xstrata Technology, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Anglo Platinum, JKTech, Cytec Industries Inc and Metso Corporation.

Queensland’s emergence as a leading centre for bio and nanotechnology also received a boost with $6.5 million from the SSIBF to establish the Bionano-products Development Facility (BnDF) at UQ. Funding for the Facility will total $11.4 million.

Professor Peter Gray, Director of UQ’s Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) where the BnDF will be housed, said the Facility would help to establish and grow pioneering research and innovation institutes and facilities across the State.

“It is widely accepted that bio-nanotechnology will be one of the main drivers of economic growth for the 21st Century,” Professor Gray said.

“The BnDF will strengthen and advance the development of bioproducts in Queensland by providing access to an integrated research facility with cutting-edge technology that does not currently exist in Australia.

“This Facility will underpin Queensland’s recent and future investment in a growing number of biotechnology, medical and health research institutes and the emerging biotechnology and nanotechnology industries.”

UQ also received a further $1.83 million from the SSIBF to establish a $6.74 million facility for Medical Diagnostic Technologies in Queensland (MedTeQ).

Professor Stuart Crozier, Director of Biomedical Engineering at UQ’s School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, said MedTeQ would bring about significant advances in health technology by drawing together world-leading researchers with clinicians at Brisbane`s major hospitals.

“Medical diagnostics development is a rapidly growing area world-wide,” Professor Crozier said

“MedTeQ`s research and development program involves an innovative combination of biomedical engineers with clinicians focused on providing better medical treatment for hospital patients.

“More significantly, this unique team has the expertise to develop devices that will assist medical diagnosis and management of patients in remote areas.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor David Siddle said the establishment of these three major facilities would be a valuable addition to UQ’s internationally-recognised research base.

“These facilities set UQ, and Queensland, at the forefront of research in both the emerging field of biotechnology as well as the established mining industry,” Professor Siddle said.

“These investments will reap huge dividends in knowledge and for the Queensland economy for many years to come.”

Media inquiries: Professor Ben Adair (3365 5802), Professor Peter Gray (3346 2170), Professor Stuart Crozier (3365 7098) or Andrew Dunne at UQ Communications (0433 364181).