The Australian government has announced the University of Sydney will receive almost $4 million in Australian Research Council (ARC) funding for the development of data science skills for the mining industry.
Research activity at the University of Sydney will be led by Centre for Translational Data Science Director, Professor Sally Cripps, and will focus on data analytics related to the long-term impact of resource use on Australia’s economy, society and environment.
Researchers will help develop the necessary data science skills for Australia’s resource industries to make the best possible evidence-based decisions when using our natural resources.
University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence welcomed the research investment and collaboration.
“The University of Sydney has long been committed to undertaking world-class research to support Australia’s resource sector,” said Dr Spence.
“As an asset-rich nation, Australia continues to play a leading role in delivering the world’s essential resources, however to maintain that position, it is important we invest in transformative technologies and collaborative research,” he said.
“New approaches to data analysis will allow for an improved understanding of how the resource sector can mitigate risk and impact, while in turn preparing Australia’s resource economy for a long-term approach to resources and mining.”
The $4 million ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre grant will go towards establishing an $11 million data science centre to support the management of Australia’s natural resources.
The Data Analytics for Resources and Environments Centre (DARE) will enable researchers to apply their data science models against real world challenges, such as water storage, biodiversity loss and the extraction of mineral resources.
“The aim of DARE is to make the best possible evidence-based decisions in harnessing and stewarding the nation’s natural resources and environment. There has never been a better, or more important time, to rethink the way we do this,” said Professor Sally Cripps.
“We have seen some of the most challenging conditions in Australia with drought causing untold heartache for famers and testing conditions for the management of water supplies everywhere,” she said.
“The management of all natural resources face the common central issue of how data is exploited to build predictive and integrated models which can be used to make economic and sustainable decisions in the face of high levels of uncertainty.”
The funding is part of a broader $7.67 million investment, which will also be used to fund a centre at the University of Adelaide that will focus on product quality and maximise resource recovery in the mining industry.
“We need to ensure that we are turning our research into real-world benefits because Australia’s world-leading research sector will be a key driver of jobs and productivity,” said Minister for Education, Dan Tehan.
“When we get collaboration between research and industry right, the benefits are unambiguous," he said.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the funding would help keep Australia’s resources sector at the top of its research game.
“A key part of last year’s National Resources Statement was to better focus the sector’s innovation and R&D on long-term, sectoral growth. These new centres will dovetail in with those plans,” Minister Canavan said.
“We are blessed with abundant, high quality resources such as coal, iron ore and gas which return billions to our economy each year. Demand for the minerals that drive modern technologies, like lithium, rare earths, nickel and cobalt, is also surging,” he concluded.