Five new ACARP grants set to further SMI capabilities

7 February 2022
Researchers at The University of Queensland’s Sustainable Mineral Institute have won five Australian Coal Industry’s Research Program (ACARP) grants, totalling more than $1.2 million, to develop new sustainable resource research.
 Director of the Sustainable Minerals Institute Professor Neville Plint said he was excited about the new funding for this suite of projects and their associated collaborations.

“Sustainability starts by making current mining operations more efficient, safe and environmentally responsible,” he said.

“It is fantastic to have ACARP’s support to develop the capability of our leaders and students in this field.

“Deepening our expertise in these areas will shine a strong light on sustainable solutions for industry.”

Safety and environment are key drivers of ACARP’s collaborative funding program which brings together the experience and technical strength of industry and researchers to solve problems for the industry’s long-term future.

1.    Development of a soft sensor for predicting dense medium cyclones performance: Using the Mill Filling Inference Tool (Mill FIT) we developed at the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC), we can bring our expertise to the industry’s coal washing processes. We will use mathematical models to infer operational characteristics that are not practical to directly measure, so advanced control and optimisation can be achieved. [Lead: Dr Francisco Reyes; grant of $286,000]

2.    Human aspects of automation and new technology in mining: Integrating people and technology through human-centred design: Coal mine technologies and automates systems must accommodate human abilities and limitations. We will describe, demonstrate, and disseminate tools and techniques that can do this, and how industry can integrate the tools into their systems. [Lead: Professor Robin Burgess-Limerick; grant of $375,573]

3.    Utilizing hyperspectral drill core scanning for geotechnical characterization: The spoil piles in open cut coal mines carry risks of failure, so predicting when and why this happens is critical for safety. We will increase the ability to predict these failures and understand better how spoil piles react to rehabilitation by evaluating data from different hyperspectral technologies and integrating it with geotechnical characterisation (with a focus on mapping mineralogical and geomechanical characteristics). [Lead: Katerina Savinova; grant of $128,500]

4.    A simulation-enabled digital twin for the design, control and optimisation of a teeter bed separator (TBS): Teeter bed separators take out non-combustible waste from coal destined for steel-making furnaces, but often run at variable stability and efficiency. We want to optimise how TBSs run and design better TBSs, generating value at each stage of the project. [Lead: Dr Angus Morrison; grant of $255,784]

5.    A new cost-effective approach for coal tailings dewatering using semi-inverted (SIV) hydrocyclones: We want to develop a technologically and economically viable process for dewatering tailings using SIV hydrocyclones. This could enable dry stack tailings technology—which is safer than wet tailings facilities and uses less space— and increase how much water we can recover from tailings. [Lead: Dr Mehdi Azadi; grant of $258,875]