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Mineral research aims to improve economic wealth

9 December 2003

Mineral research aims to improve economic wealth

Researchers will be looking at novel ways to develop New Zealand's mineral wealth with the help of more than $10m over four years from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

Four major research programmes, spread around the country, will be focusing on new ways to use New Zealand's mineral wealth to underpin its economic development.

Group manager of Investment Operations, Peter Benfell, says New Zealand's mineral resources are important to our economy as well as our infrastructure.

"In particular, this new research shows a strong shift toward research for improving the ability for industry to generate wealth and also move towards ensuring the environmental sustainability of mining practices," says Peter.

"We were also impressed with how well the successful programmes aligned with the New Zealand Mineral Industry Association's 2015 goal of doubling its contribution to Gross Domestic Product, increasing export earnings by half a billion dollars per annum, and increasing regional employment opportunities by 25,000."

Gold-mining areas in Otago and Southland will be the focus of a University of Otago programme that will receive $355,000 per annum for four years to improve the extraction and exploration methods for gold mining, as well as lowering compliance costs for environmental maintenance and rehabilitation of mine sites.

The programme will focus tightly on using applied science to provide solutions to specific industry problems. The end result will be the creation of environmentally sensitive but productive mines producing significant gold exports.

The Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS) will receive around $1.4m per annum for six years, to help improve economic growth through environmentally sustainable development of the minerals industry.

The programme, which will be based in Wellington and Dunedin, will involve multi-disciplinary scientific approaches and, through wide-ranging scientific collaborations, will employ state-of-the-art analytical and interpretive methods to research problems.

Adopting environmentally acceptable practices has become a critical requirement for mining and minerals companies and CRL Energy Ltd will receive $475,000 per annum for six years to carry out research in Westland, Otago and Southland.

The programme will provide a framework to allow New Zealand's mining industry and environmental authorities to work together to achieve wealth creation and environmental sustainability - a crucial link in the chain leading from successful mineral exploration to real wealth.

A separate part of the study will focus on reducing environmental impacts from acid mine drainage and developing innovative restoration techniques.

The University of Auckland will look at research that fosters growth of two of New Zealand's important non-fuel commodities: aggregates and gold. The programme, which will receive $344,000 per annum for four years will provide solutions to the shortage of quality aggregate in the Auckland region and increase the probability of discovering a new epithermal gold deposits in the North Island.

ENDS

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