The “ARC Hub in Advanced Technologies for Australian Iron Ore” is centred at the University of Newcastle on the site of the former corporate research laboratories of BHP Billiton. Newcastle’s capability in this area stems from the historical legacy of the BHP Steel Works (1915-1999) and the establishment of the BHP Central Research Laboratories in 1957, later known as the BHP Billiton Technology Centre. Newcastle remains a major coal producer and exporter and, for nearly a century, was a significant steel producer. The legacy also underpins the strong engineering faculty of the University of Newcastle. While the Hub has the appearance of being Newcastle centric, each of the collaborators has a strong Perth connection and base.
The Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER), formally part of the University of Newcastle, was established on the former BHP Billiton site in 2009. BHP Billiton maintained critical capability in iron making research and characterisation through the establishment of the Centre for Ironmaking Materials Research (CIMR). Newcastle has also developed new fine particle beneficiation technologies used world-wide in the mining industry to recover and concentrate fine particles via both flotation and gravity separation, including the Jameson Cell, and the Reflux Classifier. Newcastle is also home to TUNRA Bulk Solids, widely known for providing research services and testing into raw materials handling, bin design and transport.