Digital Issue 5

UNSW takes leading role in researching future technologies

  • By Professor Serkan Saydam FAusIMM, UNSW

Thought Leadership Series Partner UNSW is conducting world-class research to help create a safer and more sustainable industry to support Australia’s future.

The past and future national economic success of Australia is wedded to the resources industry; producing minerals and energy resources is crucial for global socio-economic development and is linked to almost every industry value-chain.

Therefore, the UNSW School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering has a very strong vision to develop fundamental insights that lead to technological advancements, facilitating the discovery and extraction of future minerals and energy resources with reduced environmental impact, increased safety, and improved productivity.

Cutting edge-research

The School has been collaborating nationally and internationally with more than 50 companies and research institutions. Our aim is to co-develop cutting-edge solutions and technologies to meet industry challenges that will drive further cost reduction and increase efficiency, productivity and excellence in all areas of safety, environment and people.

The School’s research goals are:

  • to advance the uptake of state-of-the-art technologies for mineral and energy resources companies, so that they can achieve sustainable, technology-integrated operations
  • to develop novel mining systems and clean energy technologies, CO2 storage solutions, nuclear waste disposal and ground- and waste-water management
  • to deploy hybrid renewable energy technologies by co-developing and designing effective solutions for energy transition, including photovoltaics, wind and hydrogen technologies
  • to advance the effective recovery of essential minerals for onset of battery technologies and store heat and pressure in underground reservoirs.

In support of the above goals, the School has four main research strengths:

  • Geomechanics, which focuses on fundamental and applied geomechanics related to the mining and oil and gas industries.
  • Transformative Technologies, which focuses on integrating advanced technologies and operational excellence to accelerate the transformation of the minerals and energy resources sectors.
  • Geoenergy, which focuses on fundamental and applied research related to the oil and gas industry.
  • Future Energy Technologies, which focuses on technological innovations that will drive future energy and minerals production.

Exploring new frontiers in mining

As a partner of AusIMM’s Thought Leadership Series, UNSW is proud to have a strong focus on exploring new frontiers in mining. Read more about our exciting projects below.

Mine Internet of Things

 IoT sensor chip. Courtesty Dr Binghao Li, MERE UNSW.

DeepIoT is a new hybrid wireless Internet of Things (IoT) platform for underground mines funded by Cooperative Research Centres Projects, led by Dr Binghao Li at UNSW in collaboration with Roobuck Pty Ltd. The project received $2 million in February 2020 to develop a world-first wireless network integrating four major wireless technologies into a single platform, improving the productivity and safety of mines. The DeepIoT platform and its designed applications will not only boost the productivity and safety of mines, but also open the door toward the digital mines of the future and enable full automation.

Smart sensing

UAV. Photo courtesy Dr Simit Raval MERE UNSW.

UNSW has industry-recognised capabilities in the integration of smart sensing technologies in the mining, environmental and civil engineering sectors. Led by Dr Simit Raval, a UNSW group has developed a cutting-edge UAV hyperspectral system that is capable of monitoring sensitive ecosystems at high spatial and spectral resolutions. This is the first fully customised UAV-hyperspectral system developed in Australia. The group has also developed a UAV-based prototype for remote collection of mine water samples from unsafe areas, and developed an innovative mobile laser scanning system for mapping in underground mines.

Space mining

Mapping prospective water ice resources for future human mission to Mars. Photo courtesy Sophia Casanova, PhD Candidate MERE UNSW.

Our space mining research was recently recognised in the July 2020 issue of Australian Geographic. Our unique approach involves applying mining engineering knowledge and approach to space missions, which makes resource extraction more feasible, and reduces the risks for potential investments. We also collaborated with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Kennedy Space Centre of NASA and the Luxembourg Space Agency, with my team developing software packages currently being used by NASA scientists.

AusIMM’s Thought Leadership Series is a free virtual keynote speaker event series that will feature leading global voices as we explore the new frontiers for the resources industry, including space mining. Find out more and register at tls.ausimm.com.

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