Treasures of the Earth

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Year 8 students from Kirwan State High School on Friday (13 May) discovered what ‘buried treasure’ can be found in their own backyard, at a workshop about the important role critical minerals play in modern technology development.

Thanks to the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA), the education arm of the Queensland Resources Council (QRC), plus support from South32’s Cannington mine, more than 110 students attended a highly anticipated Treasures of the Earth workshop.

QRC Director of Skills, Education and Diversity, Katrina-Lee Jones said students investigated links between elements in the Periodic Table and the everyday products they’re used in.

“About 30 students participated in a scavenger hunt during four separate sessions over the course of the day, which was a lot of fun,” Ms Jones said.

“The hunt was based around the Minerals Council of Australia’s ’30 Things’ publication, and students were asked to combine their exploration, investigative and problem-solving skills to connect elements with products they probably come across daily”.

South32 Cannington Vice President Operations Joe Russell said as a global diversified miner, the commodities South32 produce play a significant role in creating everyday products as well as providing critical minerals for a sustainable future.

“At South32, we produce base metals that have a very wide range of applications and will be increasingly needed as the world moves into a low carbon future.

“For example, the lead and silver we produce at Cannington is used in the production of batteries for energy storage, solar panels, and water purification technology.

“We are pleased to support this workshop and help students learn more about the mining and resources industry and the benefits of the work we undertake.

“I hope we can inspire students to consider pursuing a rewarding career in the mining and resources sector,” Mr Russell said.

Kirwan State High School Executive Principal, Ms Heather Murry said the workshop complemented the school’s chemistry curriculum and allowed students to make personal connections to the resources industry.

“Our students are often unaware that minerals produced in their own backyard are likely going into the technology sitting in their very own pockets like smartphones, or devices regularly enjoyed at home like laptops and televisions,” Ms Murry said.

“From personal hygiene products and medicine to wind turbines and buses, the elements they’re studying in the classroom don’t only appear on the Periodic Table, and are used to make our lives safer, healthier, and more sustainable”.

As Australia’s largest and most successful industry-led education and schools training initiative, the QMEA broadens student and teacher knowledge of career opportunities in resources.

The academy encourages a talent pipeline of employees into vocational and professional careers, with a focus on female and Indigenous participation. The QMEA currently engages with over 90 schools and is a partnership between the QRC and the Queensland Government under its Gateway to Industry Schools program.

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