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Research Boost for Billion-Dollar Wheat and Copper Industries

Collaborative research between the University of Adelaide and industry will be boosted with the establishment of two nation-leading research hubs in the fields of agricultural science and mineral resources, aimed at improving production in areas of critical importance to the Australian economy.

by University of Adelaide
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Native copper.Image credit: Jonathan Zander, Wikimedia CommonsThe University of Adelaide was recently awarded more than $6.8 million in federal funding to establish two Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Hubs. The hubs will also attract a further $6.25 million in industry and collaborative support, bringing the total funding to more than $13 million over five years.

The University of Adelaide has been awarded two of the seven research hubs Australia-wide, and the only hubs in South Australia. They are:

ARC Research Hub for Genetic Diversity and Molecular Breeding for Wheat in a Hot and Dry Climate

Wheat production is worth over $5 billion annually to the Australian economy and wheat is the single most important source of protein and carbohydrate for the human diet. This hub will be established by researchers at the University of Adelaide and the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics at the Waite campus, in partnership with wheat breeding companies and the Grains Research and Development Corporation. The hub will deliver advanced technologies, breeding material and information to produce new varieties of wheat that are tolerant to stressful environments.

ARC Research Hub for Australian Copper-Uranium

Copper is one of Australia's top commodity exports, worth about $6 billion a year. South Australia is a significant copper producer, hosting one of the world's biggest mineral deposits at Olympic Dam. But the ore in some copper mining areas may contain uranium and related elements, which may reduce the quality and value of the copper product. This research hub will develop, test and commercialise new safe and cost-effective methods to separate uranium from copper concentrates. It will help to ensure Australia is a world leader in copper production and associated technology.

"Today's announcement is fantastic news for our researchers in agricultural science and mineral resources, and is further proof that the University of Adelaide's research is an important contributor to the nation's economy," says the University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Mike Brooks.

"The enormous support we're receiving from industry across both of these major research hubs demonstrates just how important they are to the future of wheat and copper production.

"A key part of our Strategic Plan, Beacon of Enlightenment, is to ensure our researchers have access to the best research facilities and partnerships. These partnerships bring together research teams within and across universities, government and industry. This can greatly enhance the work of any single university. Today's announcement is a perfect example of this," Professor Brooks says.