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Scholarship Recipients

James Purtill

James is the Queensland Mine Rehabilitation Commissioner. He has held numerous Director-General roles in Queensland including the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy. He has worked in the private sector as an environmental scientist and senior manager. He is a Fellow of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government, a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

In his private sector career, James was General Manager Sustainability for an ASX-listed Energy company, Managing Director of a mine rehabilitation and environmental management company, and Director of an Australian subsidiary of an environmental consulting firm.

James holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons.) degree from the University of New South Wales and a Master of Business Administration (Advanced) from the University of Queensland. His PhD topic is ‘More and better mine rehabilitation – combatting inertia and enabling innovation in Queensland’s coal mining industry’ and forms part of CRC TiME’s Regional Economic Development Program.

Carolina Clerc Castro

Carolina is a PhD student at the Sustainable Minerals Institute of The University of Queensland, where she works in collaboration with the Centre for Social Responsibility and the Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry. Supported by her environmental and energy background and multidisciplinary experience, Carolina is researching the integration of water and energy tradeoffs to address the social impacts of mine closure in remote communities through sustainable strategies.

The removal of key infrastructure that compromises critical access to water and energy for communities living near mining activities and the limited understanding of these challenges, are some of the main barriers to sustainable post-closure planning. Carolina aims to address this by developing a multidimensional decision-making framework to better inform integrated water and energy solutions aligned with post-mining development planning. The tool will help guide more effective closure strategies to support sustainable local economic development. She will work with a mine currently closing its operations in Chile to better understand the challenges, procedures, opportunities, and practicalities of a complex closure scenario involving multiple stakeholders.

Maryam Kahe

Maryam is a PhD candidate at The University of Queensland where her research focuses on the beneficial use of final voids for catchment-scale water management. There is a lack of research on how model design, in particular for modelling lake-groundwater interactions, affects model output uncertainty. Maryam’s project addresses this using idealised pit lake-groundwater systems. She constructs conceptual and numerical groundwater-pit lake models considering innovative approaches to representing the interface between pit lakes and groundwater systems. Case studies are used to evaluate models against observed pit lake and groundwater level data. Her project is aligned with the CRC TiME Data Integration, Forecasting, and Scale program. The project has a strong component of groundwater-surface water interactions modelling.

Amelia Lee Zhi Yi

Amelia is a PhD student at the Sustainable Minerals Institute of The University of Queensland. As a multi-disciplinary environmental scientist trained in the USA, Japan and Austria, Amelia’s researching the socio-technical paradigms between community, government and corporate stakeholders in the evaluation and testing of innovative post-closure land use options. In collaboration with Mining3 and Environmental Copper Recovery Pty Ltd, Amelia’s CRC TiME research aims to deepen understanding of the stakeholder landscape at the Kapunda Copper Mines to enhance stakeholder buy-in for implementation of bioleaching as a technology for sustainable mine repurposing. Amelia is undertaking her PhD remotely at The University of Lorraine, France and conducting a parallel study on stakeholder mapping for nickel agromining initiatives in Greece.

Babul Hossain

Babul is a PhD student at the University of Western Australia. Under the joint supervision of mine site owners Iluka Resources Limited, and UWA, Babul is exploring the potential value of utilising closed mine sites that have been revegetated, for carbon sequestration. The results of this project will benchmark the soil carbon sequestration potential of revegetated areas and monitor soil carbon dynamics; assess the effects of carbon storage on rehabilitated soil physical, chemical, and biological properties; and evaluate the effects of carbon storage on soil stability, soil salinity and microbial diversity and their potential impact on mine site rehabilitation success.

Benedictor Kemanga

Benedictor is a PhD candidate at The University of Queensland where his research focusses on future climate change impacts on pit lake water balance. Understanding the pit lake mine water balance is critical for mine planning and operations as well as for post-closure regional sustainable development where it is important to determine whether a pit lake may become a liability in future due to climate change impacts. His work with CRC TiME will help the mining industry select pit lake hydrology models that minimise uncertainty in predicted water levels, identify key data that can be collected to reduce uncertainty and risk, and understand the relevance of climate change in the context of other elements of uncertainty and risk. A potential application of this research is establishing if pit lakes can be used for economic activities post closure.

Liz Wall

Liz is the non-executive chairman of a mining company and an independent consultant with more than 20 years of global experience assessing and addressing social and environmental impacts associated with large projects in developing countries.  A New Zealander by birth, Liz has lived and worked in four continents and is devoted to helping communities in developing countries experience the positive benefits and minimise the adverse impacts of natural resource sector-led development. She believes that development requires a comprehension of the social, environmental and economic factors at play in every project. This has led her to undertake a mid-career PhD looking at benefit-sharing models between Indigenous communities and mining companies, for which she has received a top-up research degree scholarship from CRC TiME.

Ebony Cowan

Ebony is a PhD candidate at Murdoch University and Kings Park Science. She investigates the responses of post-mine rehabilitated banksia woodland communities between the ages of three to 26 years to fire and fire related treatments. This knowledge is crucial to determining likely responses to disturbances, driving the sustainability of rehabilitation efforts.

Ebony is passionate about promoting biodiverse environments and understanding the ability of rehabilitation to bounce back following disturbances. Her work with CRC TiME will synthesise how resilience is used in industry and regulatory bodies, enabling a targeted effort towards promoting ecological resilience in rehabilitation.

Jake Eckersley

Jake is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia. His work as a researcher and as a botanical consultant has focused on riverine ecosystems in the Pilbara and understanding how changes to hydrology as a result of mining practices may alter ecological functioning. As part of his PhD, operating in collaboration with CRC TiME, Rio Tinto, BHP, Fortescue Metals group and the Department of Biodiversity conservation and attractions, Jake is working to improve understanding of litterfall, which is a major component of nutrient recycling in semi-arid environments. Additionally, his research explores the utility of satellite remote sensing products in the creation of dynamic, regional scale models of ecological processes, such as vegetation carbon and nutrient transfers, to improve vegetation monitoring and rehabilitation outcomes in the Pilbara.