Research to develop a new generation of wear-resistant materials and environmentally friendly manufacturing technologies has received funding of $720k over three years under the Queensland Department of State Development and Innovation's Research and Industry Partnerships Program.
The research is part of a $1.44m project managed by the CAST Cooperative Research Centre's Matt Dargusch, linking researchers with Queensland ferrous metal manufacturers, many of whom are small businesses located in regional areas.
Utilising CAST's capabilities in alloy design, component production and performance assessment, the project will create new products and business opportunities for the industry participants.
The proposed research program will also have a strong focus on technology transfer and high level skills development, in order to address the needs of Queensland-based ferrous component manufacturers.
According to the CEO of the CAST Cooperative Research Centre, David St John, "this is the start of a long term relationship between the ferrous metals sector and the CAST Cooperative Research Centre, which will allow CAST to extend beyond our light metals focus to offer services to the broader metals industry."
A new generation of wear resistant materials is required to increase the lifetime of key mining components such as dragline buckets, ore transfer chutes and other minerals processing equipment, to benefit the State's booming mining and minerals processing sector, currently responsible for 10.7% of Queensland's GDP.
The project aims to secure and expand existing markets for Queensland's ferrous metals industry sector, which directly employs 1,959 people and generates approximately $ 900m in sales every year for the State. At the same time the project aims to reduce manufacturing costs and has a strong focus on developing environmentally sustainable manufacturing solutions acceptable to the community.
A significant component of the funding will support the world leading research into wear resistant cast irons being undertaken by Jeff Gates at the University of Queensland's School of Engineering.
One of the strengths of the project is the involvement of key members of the ferrous metals value chain in Queensland including the CAST Cooperative Research Centre (comprising 13 research and industry partners), Bradken Resources Ltd (a major Qld-based supplier of wear resistant components), Tasman Warajay Ltd (a Qld-based end user of wear resistant products) and an Australian Foundry Institute consortium of eleven manufacturing SMEs.
The project is a major outcome from a Queensland Government Partnerships-Alliances Facilitation Program grant awarded to CAST and the Australian Foundry Institute in 2006 to develop an alliance with the Queensland-based ferrous component manufacturing industry.
The CAST Cooperative Research Centre is funded under the Australian Government's Cooperative Research Centres programme. CRCs undertake high quality research focused on the needs of industry, producing outcomes which make a major contribution to Australia's industrial, commercial and economic growth. A 2006 report on the economic impact of the Cooperative Research Centre Programme found that the activities of CRCs have increased Australia's Gross Domestic Product by nearly AU$2.7bn.