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New CSIRO Flagship launched to lift mineral industry R&D effort

30 May, 2008

The Australian minerals industry’s R&D effort has received a major boost with the launch in Canberra of CSIRO’s Minerals Down Under National Research Flagship by the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator the Hon. Kim Carr.

“The future of the minerals industry is vital for Australia’s economic future,” Senator Carr said.  “The industry currently contributes 8.9 per cent of Australia’s GDP and generates 50 per cent of Australia’s total exports. But this contribution is not guaranteed. Australia must become more efficient and environmentally sustainable at finding, mining and processing minerals to help ensure our future prosperity.”

CSIRO Chief Executive, Dr Geoff Garrett, said CSIRO initiated the Flagships program to provide science-based solutions in response to Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities. “The Minerals Down Under Flagship is now focussing on creating transformational technologies to counter disturbing trends and problems facing the industry,” he said.

Minerals Council of Australia Chief Executive, Mitchell Hooke, said the industry would work closely with CSIRO and partner research agencies to ensure the Flagship achieved its overarching goal of assisting the industry to exploit new resources with an estimated ‘in-situ’ value of $1 trillion by 2030.

“We believe that goal is realistic and achievable,” Hooke said. “The launch of this new Flagship is a huge vote of confidence in the value of R&D and in the future of the industry in Australia.”

“We’re hitting the ground running,” said Flagship Director, Dr Peter Lilly. “Since funding was announced around 12 months ago, the Flagship has developed its research projects, tested and refined its approach through a high-level, industry-based advisory committee, created a solid financial and governance base, and demonstrated early research success.

“It has also established collaborative links with eight CSIRO Divisions, Geoscience Australia and all State and Territory Geological Surveys, ANSTO, peak research bodies such as AMIRA, 10 universities, three CRCs and a number of other research bodies.”

The Flagship’s budget for 2007-08 includes CSIRO appropriation of $27.7 million plus anticipated external earnings of $15.5 million.

CSIRO initiated the National Research Flagships (www.csiro.au/flagships) to provide science-based solutions in response to Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities. The nine Flagships form multi-disciplinary teams with industry and the research community to deliver impact and benefits for Australia.

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