The Australian Labor Party intends to develop a $46 million mining technology centre in Perth, Western Australia, if it wins the upcoming federal election. Labor’s proposed Australian Future Mine Centre would be funded by an Australian Research Council special initiative, with half of the funds to be supplied by the federal Australian Government ($23 million) and the other half split between private sector partners, state governments and universities. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Australian Academy of Sciences would also collaborate on the project. Opposition leader Bill Shorten spoke about the plans in Perth yesterday, calling Western Australia a “colossus” for mining and oil and gas. “With 11 per cent of the Australian population, Western Australia contributes 40 per cent of our exports, and mining and oil and gas are at the centre of this,” Shorten said. “So what federal Labor will do is after consulting with industry, we’re going to set up an Australian Future Mine Centre. “We’re going to get the smartest people in Australia, from the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, working with industry in this centre to help properly map our natural resources.” Shorten said Labor would provide 50 mining engineering scholarships worth $20,000 each to be split evenly between male and female Australian students at universities in Western Australia. Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) chief executive officer Tania Constable voiced her approval of the opposition’s plans for the mining centre and the scholarships, saying data science was underpinning the work of mining engineers, analysts and geologists. “If Labor is elected, the [Australian Future Mine Centre] would enable a stronger focus on developing data and other innovative approaches to boosting productivity and ensuring Australia’s minerals industry continues to lead the world on creating wealth for all Australians – especially regional communities – from our resources,” she said. The next Australian federal election will take place in May.
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