Fortescue partners with Chinese and Australian universities for mining innovation

Fortescue partners with Chinese and Australian universities for mining innovation

Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) has announced a collaboration with a number of Australian and Chinese universities to drive mining innovation at its iron projects.

The West Australian mining major will partner with the University of Western Australia (UWA), the WA School of Mines at Curtin University, Central South University (CSU) in Changsha and Sun Yat-San University in Guangzhou.

FMG chief executive Nev Power said the company was excited by the idea of bringing the sharpest minds Australia and China has to offer onto the graduate programme.

“We used innovative way to develop and mine orebodies in the Pilbara that other companies considered uneconomic,” Power said. “That approach to innovation has been very successful for FMG, and we say our workers have two jobs.

“One is to do their job really well and the other is to try and figure out a way to do it more productively and efficiently, it’s that constant search for innovation and new ideas that drives our company culture.”

After founder Andrew Forrest, FMG’s second-largest investor is a Chinese group and Power highlighted how important it is to build strong relationships with the global power.

“We will never have all the ideas ourselves within Australia,” added Power. “The more of these links we can build, the more collaboration between universities, the greater level of cultural understanding between countries adds to innovation and helps Australia build its business.”

Sam Spearing, director of Curtin University’s WA School of Mines, said the collaboration would hopefully lead to improved safety in mining operations thanks to new technologies.

“The way to make mining safer is to move people away from the working space,” Spearing noted. “That means more instrumentation, more robotics, more autonomous machines, which in turn needs different skill sets.

“There will be a greater need for more skilled technicians, instrumentation operators, more computer science graduates, and all manner of electrical engineering types.

“But we’ll still need the mining stalwarts such as process engineers, metallurgists, geologists, surveyors and engineers.

“The future jobs will change and become even more focused on high-quality, highly skilled capabilities.”