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Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Page: 11673

Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (16:20): I was delighted to be invited to visit the Queensland Centre for Advanced Technology last week for a guided tour of CSIRO's state-of-the-art research facilities at Pinjarra Hills. I do thank Michael McWilliams, Chief of Earth Science and Resource Engineering, for his time and hospitality during my visit.

The centre commenced operations in 1992 and today houses eight areas of CSIRO's research and flagship program out of 10 total research divisions and 10 National Research Flagships. There are also five commercial occupants at QCAT, including BHP Billiton's Carbon Steel Technical Marketing Group. These commercial occupants are a testament to QCAT's very strong reputation as a collaborative research and development facility. In particular at QCAT, many of the research programs are dedicated to energy and resource issues, through their Minerals Down Under National Research Flagship, including coal seam gas, carbon dioxide storage and geothermal energy.

I would like to thank Jonas Good, the specialist technical team leader with BHP Billiton's Metallurgical Coal Marketing Team. At their facility they are researching ways to improve our understanding of iron ore products and how to optimise their use in steel mill iron-making processes. They are developing technology that will be able to speed up the characterisation of new ore resources, which can assess new and existing ore blends without the need to physically extract ore. Similarly, the automation of optical image analysis has largely been completed and will minimise expensive laboratory and pilot-scale research on ores that do not show promise. This is particularly important as global demand grows while reserve quality declines. Researchers are using the $30 million research coking ovens to devise new methods of environmentally friendly, low-emission coking.

In the area of information and communications, scientists at QCAT are developing field robotics and sensor networks. For example, they have built a prototype robot which could allow airport staff to remotely operate exit doors. In mining, they have developed world-class technology and high-precision 3D imaging and mapping and online monitoring of mining processes. They are also contributing to research which will enable automatic localisation and mapping, which have uses in many areas. For example, in a smelting factory, you can attach one of the 360-degree cameras and technology which would allow a smelter to automatically stop should it identify movement. This would make the factories much safer for all involved. So at every stage of the mining process—from identifying and analysing the quality of a possible mine, using optical imaging to identify the mining processes as they happen, to the melting down of metal—CSIRO has relevant research generating products of the highest values to our mineral and energy resources.

I would also like to congratulate CSIRO for their official opening of the $140 million Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder in Western Australia. The precursor infrastructure at the site was originally designed and developed by CSIRO.

I commend the more than 350 staff on site at QCAT, who every year are having a real impact on our community, with a significant flow of innovative, leading edge technologies and high-value products and processes. (Time expired)