For Filipino metallurgy student Princess Parubrub, the Australian mining industry’s expertise is the most important commodity it exports.
Metallurgy is primarily concerned with the processing of ores into metal form, but it can also help projects in the exploration phase determine ore mineralogy to design the process that will best fit the sample.
Princess came to Australia in January to study a Master in Engineering Science (Metallurgy) at the Western Australian School of Mines (WASM) at Curtin University as part of a dual degree offered jointly with the University of Santo Tomas (UST).
The program is a “1+1” platform that allows students to earn two Master degrees in two years – the course Princess is currently studying at WASM and a Master of Chemical Engineering at UST in Manila.
The objective of this program and other similar partnerships is to promote responsible and sustainable mining practice in the Philippines and other developing countries by producing experts in this area.
In essence it is one of several means of exporting Australia’s well-established technology and practices in sustainable mining through instruction and mutually beneficial research works and innovations.
A few months after completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering at UST, Princess said she was approached by her university to take part in the “1+1” program.
Princess loves travelling to different places, meeting new people and exploring their culture but, in a testament to Australia’s standing in the global mining sector, she said it was the opportunity to study here specifically that sparked her interest in pursuing metallurgy.
“The best part about studying metallurgy is that I am enrolled at WASM which is one of the world’s top universities in the mining and mining-related fields,” she said.
“It really proves I am getting a quality education.”
Princess was able to take part in the foreign exchange degree after she won a scholarship offered by the Australian government intended to create alumni who will contribute to Australia’s strategic reach and influence in the Asia-Pacific region and globally.
Princess said she was drawn to the industry by a long-held passion for mathematics.
“I chose to study engineering because my favourite subject in high school was mathematics and the engineering course was said to have a lot of mathematical computation,” she said.
Despite having some experience in a Filipino mining firm, the 24-year-old said transitioning to metallurgy wasn’t easy but offered enjoyable challenges now that she was familiar with the basic processes.
“Metallurgy requires the continuous development of skills, mostly to keep up with technological advances,” she said.
“Different equipment types are always being developed to make a process more efficient and more economical so metallurgists must be able to adapt quickly to changes.”
Princess said the mining industry itself had offered some much-needed support with this endeavour since her arrival in Australia.
“The Australian mining industry offers a wide variety of seminars and workshops through university programs and other mining organisations,” she said.
“By attending these events, I acquire technical knowledge on specific-based technology and processes.”
Two of Princess’ favourite sports are volleyball and basketball, but those aren’t the only time she leaves the ground, describing herself as someone who “jumps out of excitement when seeing those big processing plants and amazing mine sites”.
Despite being in the country for a few months now, she is still waiting for an opportunity to show off her vertical leap on site, but she will get her opportunity this month when she spends a week working for KCGM in a casual role.
Princess returns to work in the Philippines at the end of the year and with her rare enthusiasm for mining and an Australian education under her belt, the positive impact her knowledge has on mining in her home country could make her the most valuable commodity Australia exports this year.