Wednesday, 4 December 2013
£6m for emergent technologies
The University of Nottingham and Rio Tinto have agreed a £6m, five year partnership to deliver the next generation of innovative technologies for the mining industry.
The Rio Tinto Centre for Emergent Technologies opened yesterday (3 December) to develop world-changing technologies to address issues related to energy efficiency, waste reduction, capital productivity, extension of resource life and process and operator safety.
Global demand for minerals has grown dramatically in recent years, particularly in emerging markets. This has necessitated the exploitation of deeper mines in more remote locations, which in turn has intensified the need for safer, more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective processing methods.
At The University of Nottingham, research in this area has expanded significantly, with the securing of major research grants and investment in world-class experimental facilities, including some of the largest materials processing systems found anywhere in the world.
Rio Tinto began its Mine of the Future™ programme in 2008 with the aim of creating next generation technology to improve efficiency, lower costs, and enhance health, safety and environmental performance. A key element has been the development of strong partnerships with leading universities across the world, including The University of Nottingham.
Engineers at the University will be carrying out research focused on new ways of separating ores based on the properties of individual rocks, meaning that waste material with no valuable minerals contained within it, can be rejected prior to energy intensive further processing.
Researchers will also be focusing on how the huge energy costs associated with crushing and grinding rocks for metal extraction can be reduced, as well as increasing the recovery of valuable minerals, thereby ensuring less waste is produced from the process, higher metal recoveries are produced and all at a lower energy cost.
The Faculty of Engineering at The University of Nottingham has a long history of working with Rio Tinto across a number of sectors, including improving the efficiency of rock breakage through electromagnetic processing, reducing the environmental impact of mining operations and improving the efficiency of mineral separation processes.
As a result of these previous successful collaborations, Rio Tinto has now agreed to establish the new Centre at the University, which will receive the £6m funding over the next five years.
The Rio Tinto Centre for Emergent Technologies pulls together academic staff and researchers from disciplines across engineering, including leading experts in process design, materials characterisation, numerical modelling and simulation and materials testing.
Professor Sam Kingman, Research Director of the Rio Tinto Centre for Emergent Technologies, said: “This truly multi-disciplinary partnership with Rio Tinto will enable the delivery of significant tangible outputs that have the potential to provide a step change in the performance and productivity of Rio Tinto’s operations. It will also provide a real focus for our activities here at The University of Nottingham through provision of a clear pathway to deliver quantifiable impact from our research.”
Speaking about the new centre, Professor Chris Rudd, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement at The University of Nottingham, added: “If the mining industry is to continue to meet the demands of a growing population in a sustainable way, then new technologies are going to be required to meet the new challenges. We are looking forward to working with colleagues at Rio Tinto in order to investigate these innovative new ideas.”
Preston Chiaro, Group Executive, Technology and Innovation, Rio Tinto, said: “The partnership with The University of Nottingham will ensure that Rio Tinto can solve some of the key technical challenges facing mining in the future. Our aim is to always work with the best research groups in the world, and Nottingham is an obvious partner.”Back