Preparing the next Generation of Mining Workforce for ‘Industry 4.0’

Mitsubishi Development (MDP) and The University of Queensland (UQ) have commenced a new partnership to educate the next generation of the mining workforce. MDP has committed $750,000 over three years that will see a Future Mining Systems Initiative Director established at UQ.

The Director will implement a new program to contribute to driving the expansion of technology education in mining engineering, whilst endeavouring to increase Australia’s supply of skilled mining professionals in the future.

The partnership has been formed largely in response to the current challenges faced by industry, including a reduction in mining engineering graduates over the last few years, and the need for the resources sector to adapt to the challenges and opportunities that have, and will continue to come from digital transformation and decarbonisation.

(L-R) UQ Vice-Chancellor and President – Professor Deborah Terry AO, UQ Chancellor – Peter V Varghese AO, UQ Executive Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology – Professor Vicki Chen, MDP Chief Executive Officer – Sadahiko Haneji, MDP Senior Vice President and Head of Business Strategy and Planning – Kenji Azuma, MDP Chief Information Officer, Chief Digital Officer and Head of Digital Transformation – Tatsuro Sako

This initiative will see UQ develop and implement new curriculum focusing on digital technologies, that will be integrated with its Mining Engineering offerings. The parties are confident that this will empower the future workforce to excel in fields like automation, data analytics, and robotics, while also contributing to the reduction of site-based emissions through newly researched operational efficiencies. The partnership will also facilitate UQ’s engagement with secondary school students to highlight the exciting and modern career opportunities.

Mitsubishi Development’s Chief Executive Officer, Sadahiko Haneji explained that not only is the demand for skilled mining engineers increasing year on year, but also the traditional curriculum needed to fundamentally change along with the evolution of technology.

“Currently, there are too few graduating mining engineering students to meet industry demand”, said Mr Haneji. “When we learned that Mining Engineering students currently make up only 2-5% of the wider Engineering enrolments at UQ, we knew that something different was needed in addition to typical scholarships and research grants”.

“Now, more than ever, our industry is trying to identify revolutionary ways to adapt to the age of digital transformation and decarbonisation”, Mr Haneji said. “MDP is excited to partner with UQ, which is well-positioned to address these challenges as a top global University in the Mining and Resources Engineering fields”.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Deborah Terry AO, said this initiative aimed to address the sector’s demand for highly skilled workers with a broad skillset, and an innovative mindset.

“We know that mining engineering students will still need the knowledge they gain from the traditional curriculum for the industry of the future,” Professor Terry explained. “But they will also require additional elements, and it is not sufficient to simply add more content to the degree.”

This agreement follows the implementation of a new program and course structure by UQ’s Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, allowing students to major in Mining Engineering while pursuing a specialisation in Civil, Mechanical, or Mechatronic Engineering.

“When Mitsubishi Development approached us with the same concerns that we had when creating the new program, we were thrilled with the opportunity to partner with them for the benefit of the students, and the broader resources industry,” said Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and IT, Professor Vicki Chen.

“This is a great example of positive engagement with industry to develop leaders of the future for the mining and resource industries. It also highlights the high level of technological innovation occurring in these industries,” she said.

A memorandum of understanding was signed on the 26th of October between MDP and UQ at the St Lucia Campus, celebrating the commencement of this new partnership.

(L-R) UQ Vice-Chancellor and President – Professor Deborah Terry AO, MDP Chief Executive Officer – Sadahiko Haneji, UQ Chancellor – Peter N Varghese