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ARC project wins national research funding


Research that aims to reduce the risk of mine tailings failure and a project to improve understanding of the ecology and hydrology of streams in arid areas are two new research projects at The University of Western Australia to receive Federal Government funding.

The funding was announced today by Federal Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham under the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects Scheme.

Professor Andy Fourie, from UWA’s School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering, and his team will use a $630,000 grant plus $720,000 cash and $540,000 in-kind support from partner organisations to develop techniques to predict and mitigate the risk of failure in mine tailings storage facilities.

Dr Pauline Grierson and Dr Greg Skrzypek, from the West Australian Biogeochemistry Centre within UWA’s School of Biological Sciences, will use a $620,000 grant plus $400,000 cash and $800,000 in-kind support from partner organisations.

They will work with researchers from Rio Tinto and the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training at Flinders University to investigate how surface groundwater affects the ecology of ephemeral streams, with a focus on the Pilbara region of north-western Australia.

PROJECT DETAILS

Investigator(s): Dr Pauline Grierson; Dr Grzegorz Skrzypek; Professor Dr Peter Cook; Professor Craig Simmons; Dr Shawan Dogramaci

Summary: Ecohydrologic functioning of ephemeral streams. This project aims to increase understanding of how surface-groundwater interactions sustain vegetation associated with ephemeral streams. One of the biggest problems faced by mining and regional development in arid regions is how to protect ecological and heritage values of ephemeral streams by minimising impacts of water abstraction and surplus discharge. The project will use environmental tracers, coupled with assessment of vegetation water use and numerical modelling, to assess resilience of ephemeral streams to changes in flows resulting from mining activities and climate-related shifts in recharge. Expected outcomes of the project include providing appropriate context for evaluating and adapting management to conserve scarce water resources. This project should significantly contribute to the sustainable management of both mineral and groundwater resources.

Administering Organisation: The University of Western Australia

Partner Organisation(s): RIO TINTO - IRON ORE

Funding Awarded: $620,000.00