Microwaving rocks in the magical land of Oz

Our new friend Kaangy

Crazy title. Hold onto your seats, all will be revealed.

3 weeks down already?! Cue blogging cliché no.1: time really does fly by when you’re having fun! But let’s rewind a little.

Home Sweet Home

So you may be wondering how on earth we ended up down-undaah?

Along with 10 other lucky students, we were awarded The Rio Tinto Scholarship 2012. Such a privilege has allowed us to set off on summer internships to different corners of the world, to gain valuable insights into the mining industry.

So here we are at The Julius-Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre, Brisbane, Australia (check out our pad here in Indooroopilly).

We are involved in a project known by the centre as “The Secret Squirrel” [insert dramatic music here].  This involves carrying out innovative, small-scale experiments on 1000s (literally 1000s), of ore samples straight from Kennecott Mine, Utah.

Our main aim is to optimise the process of separating valuable minerals from barren waste using Microwave technology. And that, for now, is all we are allowed to tell you.

Not only do we get to carry out research in an experimental mine (any sceptics out there see photo for proof), but also every Thursday we attend a post-grad lecture on the controversial field of “GeoMetallurgy”.

The main philosophy behind GeoMet is the integration of all disciplines involved in mining projects, from the geologists to the mining engineers and even the company directors. Given its name, GeoMet obviously focuses on the geological and metallurgical drivers behind ore body formation and how such knowledge can improve milling processes to maximise resource value.

We have been on a huge learning curve already. Perhaps very naively, we both thought that the mining industry simply involved extracting minerals, processing them and then getting the end product.

The Rotary Breakage Tester (check out our girly attire…)

Instead, mining utilises very intricate and ground-breaking technology to overcome obstacles presented by the enormous variability of ore-bodies. This variability is what causes each mining project, along with its processes, to be unique and THAT is what makes mining an exciting industry to be involved in.

Even though it has been all go, we wouldn’t miss the opportunity to soak up the Australian culture! Oz is absolutely fab. The people are so friendly and really do seem to love the British accent.

On the first weekend, we visited Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (20 minutes away from our house) where we actually got to cuddle koalas and kangaroos!!

Our new friend Kaangy

We also took a wee tour around central Brisbane before heading to a local Aussie bar to watch the Lions vs Wallabies match (let’s just say they weren’t very welcoming that night). But the highlight of our trip so far has to be visiting Tangalooma Wild Dolphin Resort – an island just east of mainland Oz.

We went snorkeling (meaning, yes, we donned the mighty wet suit – evidence attached) along sunken shipwrecks, and we casually swam with some turtles! The evening ended with us hand-feeding dolphins as the sunset came down – what an unbelievable experience!

In the coming weeks we will no doubt update you on how our research is developing and on our travels to The Great Barrier Reef, Sydney and perhaps Tasmania – not to make you too jealous or anything!

See you soon!

Hayley and Izzy.

p.s. why the hell did no one tell us that Brisbane was so hilly!

Shout out to the third member of our team - Tommy Priddle!
Central Brisbane – also the day Lions beat the Wallabies!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *