Our Higher Degree by Research (HDR) projects are divided by SMI's Research Centres. Please select a Centre to explore all available projects in that category.

Many of our projects are cross-disciplinary, with advisors from different centres, giving you the benefit of a wider range of expertise.

We update this page as new projects become available. Check back to find new projects.

Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC)

PhD Title: Improving Mineral Processing Liberation Measurement by coupling X-Ray Tomography and 2D SEM Information

Project Summary
Liberation is a key parameter affecting performance in mineral processing.  This PhD at the JKMRC will develop techniques to more accurately measure mineral liberation by coupling 2D MLA and 3D XRT data and applying AI and stereological correction methods.  

Project Description
Mineral particle liberation is currently measured routinely by the mining industry using 2D SEM systems such as the Mineral Liberation Analyser (MLA) and QEMSCAN but these systems suffer from stereological bias. 3D X-ray micro-CT (XRT) does not suffer from this problem, but accurate mineral identification is proving challenging to achieve.

The JKMRC is seeking a PhD student to develop better methods of measuring mineral liberation. The hypothesis is that a better approach can be developed by coupling the information produced from the MLA and XRT systems. The aims are to:
  1. Develop improved methods of visualising, segmenting and quantifying the mineralogy of particle images collected by XRT using programs such as Dragonfly and Matlab
  2. Evaluate whether 2D SEM information can improve mineral identification in the XRT images using Artificial Intelligence techniques
  3. Evaluate whether 3D XRT liberation measurement can be used to develop or calibrate stereological corrections for 2D SEM information
Research Environment
The JKMRC is one of eight research centres within SMI. Based at the University’s Experimental Mine in Indooroopilly, the JKMRC has world class facilities, including a pilot plant, chemical laboratories, a workshop and a mineral characterisation facility.

The PhD program is sponsored through the ARC Centre of Excellence for Enabling Eco-Efficient Beneficiation of Minerals (COEMinerals), a collaboration between 8 Australian Universities doing research to invent science-based, more-efficient ways to recover minerals. As part of the ARC, the student will have opportunities for involvement in annual conferences, centre training programs and mentorship from researchers from other universities and the mining industry.

Supervisory Team
Principle Advisor:  Associate Professor Kym Runge, JKMRC
Associate Advisor:  Dr Gordon Forbes, JKMRC
Associate Advisor:  Professor Nick Cook, WH Bryan Mining Geology Research Centre (BRC)
Associate Advisor: Associate Professor Seher Ata, School of Mineral and Energy Resources Engineering, University of New South Wales 
Preferred Educational Background
A working knowledge of mineral characterisation using either MLA or X-ray tomography systems  would be of benefit to someone working on this project.
You’ll demonstrate academic achievement in the field/s of mathematics or engineering and the potential for scholastic success.
 A background or knowledge of mineral processing with an aptitude for programming and mathematical analysis is highly desirable.  

For more information please contact Associate Professor Kym Runge
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Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM)

Projects - Justice and fairness, energy transitions, and transition planning

CSRM is accepting expressions of interest from bright and passionate candidates interested in research in the fields of justice and fairness, energy transitions, and transition planning. Specifically, the Centre is searching for PhD students to work in the following areas of study:

  • Socio-economic transitions in post-mining regions in Australia
  • Impacts of closures of coal mines and coal-fired power stations
  • Indigenous participation in energy transitions

Prospective candidates should meet the following criteria:

  • Applicants must be eligible for acceptance by The University of Queensland into a PhD program (Domestic Applicants)
  • Academic excellence in a social science field such as human geography, sociology, and political science
  • Knowledge of qualitative research methodology and GIS is highly desirable.

To express interest, applicants should submit the following:

  • Cover letter explaining their interest in an identified topic of research relevant to the research areas set out above
  • Full CV, including publications
  • All prior undergraduate and graduate transcripts.

Candidates with CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) backgrounds and those with work experience in industry are encouraged to apply. Shortlisted candidates will be supported to develop a full research proposal and apply for a UQ PhD scholarship.

For questions and to express interest, contact Dr Julia Loginova (j.loginova@uq.edu.au).

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WH Bryan Mining Geology Research Centre (BRC)

Project – EU Horizon Europe-funded m4mining project

As part of the m4mining international consortium, SMI has multiple PhD opportunities in the fields of geological sciences, mineral resources, environmental monitoring, drones, and application of AI and ML to hyperspectral sensing. Europe’s key funding programme for research and innovation (Horizon Europe) will support research costs, field work around Australia and opportunities to travel to Europe.

For further information, contact Associate Professor Steven Micklethwaite (s.micklethwaite@uq.edu.au)

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Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry (CWiMI)

Project – Developing critical design criteria for soil cover systems on minerals waste

The purpose of cover systems is to ensure the long-term chemical and physical stability of minerals waste storage facilities (including waste rock piles, heap leach residues, and tailings storage facilities) and to provide a suitable substrate for vegetation.

Covers are site- and material-specific and largely influenced by spatial and temporal climate variations. It means that a ‘one-size-fit-all’ approach is not suitable for cover systems. Site-specific cover designs need to be trialled and monitored for sufficient lengths of time in the context of each site. However, large-scale field trials are logistically challenging and often do not concur with mining schedules during the life of an operation.

In this project we will test a range of design criteria under controlled conditions including the depth of storage layer, the depth of vegetative layer, degree of compaction, the location and type of capillary break layer(s), cover material biochemical weathering and degradation, by subjecting the covers to a series of simulated rainfall and evaporation events. The data generated will help the industry to benchmark site specific cover designs against validated examples of typical covers before attempting field trials, rather than a means to replace field trials.

For further information, contact Associate Professor Mansour Edraki (m.edraki@cmlr.uq.edu.au) and Dr Mandana Shaygan (m.shaygan@uq.edu.au)

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