More than $200,000 in student scholarships is up for grabs in a bid to develop innovative ways to improve land rehabilitation in Queensland coal mines.
Resources Minister Scott Stewart said applications were now open for the Queensland Resources Council’s Coal Mine Site Rehabilitation scholarships, which give up to two Queensland university students the chance to pursue postgraduate studies in world-class environmental management.
“Mine rehabilitation is now a key part of company policies and the life of mine planning cycle,” Mr Stewart said.
“Not only is it important for the environment but rehabilitation programs help create more jobs for Queenslanders after a mine is no longer in use.
“While much progress has been made, I support the industry’s continuing efforts to improve rehabilitation methods to ensure mining is compatible with current and future land uses.
“Mine rehabilitation is highly regulated, better implemented and more accountable than ever before, but we need ongoing research to fill knowledge gaps and identify future issues to ensure we can have confidence in the industry’s ability to manage and reduce its impacts.”
Since 2007, the Coal Minesite Rehabilitation scholarships have enabled Queensland postgraduate students to undertake research to help improve coal mine rehabilitation within the state.
The successful recipients will receive $35,000 a year for up to three years to conduct their research.
QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said the industry needs more world-class experts to continually innovate and lead the resources sector’s rehabilitation practices.
“The scholarships will benefit individual students but will also benefit our industry because we need innovation and fresh thinking to help us continually improve our practices,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“Managed well, land can be used after the completion of mining for a range of uses such as agriculture, renewable energy infrastructure, native ecosystems and community development.
“The research conducted by these postgraduate students is making a significant contribution to understanding and implementing sustainable land management.”
University of Queensland student and 2018 scholarship recipient Phillip McKenna used his scholarship to study the effects of bushfires on rehabilitated land.
“The scholarship allowed me to travel across Central and South East Queensland for the project which was looking at rehabilitation and how it recovers to fire over time,” Mr McKenna said.
“I initially did my masters on fire recovery; I’ve got a background in ecology and remote sensing and this PhD is really an extension of that project.
“This project is really looking at how sustainable rehabilitation is in the long term.”
Mr Stewart said advances in mine rehabilitation provided certainty for business, industry and ongoing benefits for local communities.
“In 2018 the Queensland Government passed important mining rehabilitation legislation to ensure land no longer used for mining is returned to its original state, or better,” he said.