10 July 2012

The University of Queensland (UQ) and Rio Tinto have signed a multi-million dollar agreement designed to create a sustainable future pipeline of graduates for the mining industry.

Rio Tinto and UQ will together announce a new Corporate Education Agreement, as one that will focus on developing academic leadership, building skills and capability for the mining industry, and increasing diversity levels by targeting female and Indigenous students.

The agreement is part of a Rio Tinto programme that is establishing a network of leading education providers to generate and foster an appropriate expertise base for the resources industries.

The partnership is a five-year, $2.5 million agreement that features education initiatives including 39 scholarships, two post-doctoral fellowships, the creation of a new bachelor’s degree in geotechnical engineering, and initiatives to increase female engineering enrolments by 15 per cent.

UQ Vice-Chancellor, Professor Deborah Terry, said the agreement would build on a strong and long-standing connection with Rio Tinto, and would provide a broad range of benefits.

“Science and engineering can offer young people exceptional personal and career rewards,” Professor Terry said.

“When we encourage more women and Indigenous Australians to study science and engineering, this brings significant benefit to society, industry, and the economy.

“UQ applauds Rio Tinto’s support for future academic leaders, because it will give recent PhD graduates career paths that encourage them to educate and mentor coming generations of scientists and engineers.”

Rio Tinto Energy Chief Executive, Doug Ritchie, said the agreement brought a strong focus to integrated and practical learning, collaboration on curriculum, improving equity and access to university for a diverse range of students, and would ultimately build a sustainable talent pipeline.

“This initiative is aimed at building skills and capability for the mining industry both now and into the future,” Mr Ritchie said.

“The 39 scholarships, the first of which will be available from semester one 2013, will provide financial support to students throughout their university degrees, access to mining related education, field trips and internships.

“We look forward to helping increase the number of students in hard to fill disciplines such as engineering and earth sciences, as well as increasing the diversity of student intakes.

“This agreement will help provide a healthy talent pipeline into our two-year Rio Tinto global graduate development programme.”

It’s the third such agreement for Rio Tinto, which has also set up education agreements with The University of Western Australia and Imperial College London.

Professor Terry and Mr Ritchie will officially launch the new initiatives at a ceremony today at Customs House, Brisbane.

For further information contact Allison Rock, University of Queensland at a.rock1@uq.edu.au, 07 3346 3086 or Alison Smith, Rio Tinto at 07 3625 56565