The NSW Institute for Frontier Geoscience (NSW IFG) is focused on research and teaching in Earth Sciences at the University of Newcastle. The Institute is a partnership of the University of Newcastle with the NSW Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services and NuCoal Resources Ltd and provides teaching, research leadership, and research facilities to contribute to the sustainability and viability of the minerals and mining sectors in NSW.
In conjunction with the Discipline of Earth Sciences, the NSW IFG will help provide graduates with vital knowledge and skills through industry support for study, work placement, on the job training and access to the most up to date technology and expertise in preparation for a career in the resources sector. Greater access to work placement and graduate work opportunities is available through the Work Integrated Learning Program and industry specific Professional Development Training Courses. These courses have been designed by the industry for the industry, and provide "industry-standard benchmarking of coal geologist skills".
The NSW IFG engages with mineral exploration companies in NSW to undertake research projects related to understanding causes of mineralisation and to improving the predictive capacity of exploration targeting though structural, tectonic, petrological and geochemical analysis.
The NSW IFG is also developing research capability around environmental issues related to the Coal and Coal Seam Gas industries, focussing on their impacts on the groundwater and aquifer systems in the Sydney Basin. The impacts are a major concern to industry, government and the regional communities, and we plan to undertake scientific research to understand the long-term effects of coal and CSG mining and extraction on land use activities, particularly on agriculture and urbanisation.
This research in the NSW IFG is part of a holistic research plan at the University of Newcastle to understand all aspects of competitive land use issues related to coal mining and CSG activities. The University sees itself as an interested neutral broker or 'critical friend' in the community, seeking to find solutions for long-term, sustainable state and regional development. Through its range of research Centres and Disciplines, the University is well placed to investigate issues of regional sustainability and energy policy, social license, community and environmental impacts.
We intend to engage all stakeholders in this research plan, so that all are aware of why and how we are carrying out this work. In effect, we seek a social licence for the research. To this end,we are collaborating with the following research bodies at the University:
- Newcastle Institute of Energy Resources (NIER)
- Priority Research Centre for Geotechnical and Materials Modelling
- Priority Research Centre for Energy
- Water and Environmental Engineering Research Group
- Environmental and Climate Change Research Group (ECCRG)
- Tom Farrell Institute
- Centre for Social Research in Energy and Resources
- Pathogenic and Environmental Microbiology Group
- Centre for Urban & Regional Studies
- EM & X-ray Centre
- Analytical and Biomolecular Research Facility (ABRF)