Home' Link : issue 1 Contents Building knowledge
CQUniversity researchers are bringing cross-disciplinary
knowledge and practical skills to a range of complex
sustainability issues, including the race to produce
clean coal. Around 200 organisations and companies
are benefiting from such research, including the BHP
Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), Anglo Coal, Rio
Tinto and Xstrata.
At the Clean Coal Centre in Gladstone, CQUniversity's
Associate Professor of Mining Dr Colin Greensill and
other researchers are exploring clean coal technologies
that enhance both the e ciency and the environmental
acceptability of coal extraction, preparation and use.
Colin Cole, a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at
CQUniversity, is engaged through the university's Centre
for Railway Engineering in developing technology to
improve the e ciency of coal haulage around the nation.
One project is an electronic train braking
system that enables railway operators to
shorten train stopping distances and
increase the capacity of the existing
Peter Smith, Professor of Organisational Systems
at CQUniversity, says carbon sustainability issues
notwithstanding, one of the big challenges for the
mining sector will be addressing skills shortages.
CQUniversity is a key player in the Pathways project,
an initiative funded by the Department of Education,
Employment and Workplace Relations that aims to foster
careers in mining and engineering for people in Central
Queensland. One of its goals is to ensure students and
workers can shift seamlessly from school, TAFE and
university courses as they seek relevant industry skills.
A solution to the skills dilemma is likely to be the
emergence of more para-professionals who enrol in
lear ning programs to expand their career options.
"Essentially, it's not about doing away with trade
skills but it's lifting the emphasis a little bit to the top
end of trade skills and into graduate skills," Smith says.
In the r ush to find skilled workers, CQUniversity
researchers are urging mining and other infrastructure
companies not to ignore safety. rough ongoing work
with mining giants such as BMA, Smith is helping
to foster a safety culture and better understanding of
fatigue management. He cites vast improvements
in attitudes to alcohol in the workplace as a sign that
research is having a positive impact.
e Australian Simulation Research O ce is
another recent initiative that is transforming how
people workin the resources sector. Launchedin Mackay
in 2009as ajointinitiativebetween theMiningIndustry
Skills Centre and CQUniversity, it increases training
standa rds through simulation exercises and promotes a
In other research, Gopinath Chattopadhyay,
a Professor of Industrial Asset Ma nagement at
CQUniversity, is examining ways to ensure the profitable
operation of mines and reduce on-site fatalities.
As the nation grapples with carbon emissions strategies,
CQUniversity's Rolfe says it is clear that Queensland
residents are wary of some policy approaches.
In a paper presented at the 54th annual conference
of the Australian Agric ultural and Resource Economics
Society in Adelaide, he and co-researcher Dr Galina
Ivanova considered how communities view the
tradeo s between economic growth and environmental
sustainability. ey revealed that the "dominant
preference of respondents across the subsamples was for
some changes in the current policy".
Technology changes were the preferred option to
achieve carbon emission cuts, slightly ahead of carbon
capture and far more popular than green power options.
Rolfe explains: "In a nutshell, the research shows
that people think... it's important for Australia to reduce
emissions but they probably don't value it highly enough
to make [green power] worthwhile." ■
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