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PhD Top-up scholarship: Integration of Indigenous knowledge into post-mine land use planning

University of Queensland

Research Environment

UQ ranks in the top 50 as measured by the Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities. The University also ranks 46 in the QS World University Rankings, 42 in the US News Best Global Universities Rankings, 66 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and 54 in the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Sustainable Minerals Institute

The University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) is a world-leading research institute integrating the expertise of technical, environmental and social specialists to deliver responsible resource development across the life of mine. We are dedicated to finding knowledge-based solutions to the sustainability challenges of the global minerals industry, and training the next generation of industry leaders.

SMI is home to six research centres and a Centre of Excellence based in Chile. We have a strong track record in developing world leading solutions in exploration, mining, mineral processing, workplace health and safety, mine rehabilitation, social responsibility, water and energy.

At SMI, we are truly independent, objective and rigorous and our researchers have experience working across the research, government and industry sectors. We offer professional development training to many of our partners and can tailor courses to suit industry trends or company needs. We offer supervision to PhD students and are proud that our alumni are now in senior roles in resource companies and government organisations around the world.

SMI comprises seven major research Centres:

  • WH Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre
  • Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre
  • Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining
  • Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre
  • Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation
  • Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry
  • International Centre of Excellence in Chile

Information about the Institute may be accessed on the Institute’s website.

Job No: 512288
Area: Sustainable Minerals Institute
Salary (FTE): UQ Postgraduate Res Scholar BAND
Work type: Full Time – Scholarship
Location: St Lucia

The award

Supervisor – Dr Carlos Miraldo Ordens

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s (Indigenous) knowledge holistically describes the significance, flow sources, connectivity, pathways and lags of water moving through and under the earth. To date, there has been limited research led by Indigenous interests into how Indigenous knowledge of water can be incorporated into hydrogeological investigations and groundwater management in Australia. As such, standard water management strategies cannot effectively prevent surface and groundwater degradation impacting cultural values, rights and access and the needs of traditional owners. This is notably the case under a changing climate and in regions impacted by heavy water users, such as mines and the extractives sector generally. Furthermore, this valuable knowledge is not being sufficiently used to inform groundwater planning, sharing, analyses and models, which restricts the potential of this knowledge to better inform sustainable water resource use. This is especially important as mining landscapes transition to post-mining scenarios.

The Indigenous student will collaborate with members of a team and traditional-knowledge holders in relation to groundwater in one or more study areas in Queensland. The case study sites will be decided during the early stages of the project. Currently, potential candidate case study sites are mining-affected areas of Queensland’s Bowen Basin, Surat Basin and Stradbroke Islands. In a collaborative approach, Indigenous local knowledge at any/all of these sites will be combined with hydrogeological data (e.g. hydrochemistry, isotopes, pressure) to understand origin of recharge and flow pathways, effects of geology and climate variability, etc. New modelling approaches will integrate all data to better predict hydrogeological processes.

Additionally, the project will seek to investigate effective ways for knowledge sharing between customary landowners and hydrogeologists. It is critical that knowledge sharing recognises the locally based form of Indigenous knowledge and respects protocols in relation to who has the right to share cultural knowledge. The approach taken will create a methodology that can be used across Australia to better combine traditional and hydrogeological knowledge, aiming at providing better groundwater outcomes for traditional owners and country. Ultimately, this will lead to groundwater investigations and management plans integrating traditional knowledge as the standard approach in Australia.

The detailed project scope will be defined between the successful candidate and the supervision team to ensure the student’s background, research interests and skills are appropriately engaged.

A working knowledge of Anthropology; Environmental Science or Engineering; Earth Sciences; Hydrology; or, Civil Engineering would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

Selection criteria

To be eligible to apply, you must also meet the entry requirements for Higher Degrees by Research at UQ. Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant’s previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field/s of Anthropology; Environmental Science or Engineering; Earth Sciences; Hydrology; or, Civil Engineering and the potential for scholastic success.

Applicants must be in receipt of or apply for and be awarded a living allowance scholarship of at least the Research Training Program rate to be eligible for this scholarship. This includes the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Scholarship.

To be eligible you must be:

  • an Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person
  • studying full-time and onshore in Australia
  • nominated by an enrolling school or institute at UQ
  • assessed by the Graduate School as meeting all conditions for admission to the higher degree by research program.

Applicants are required to provide compelling evidence of their Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status. This would usually take the form of confirmation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status under the common seal of a community organisation. Where exceptional circumstances apply, statutory declarations and other forms of documentation may be considered. Original or certified copies of supporting documentation must be provided.


This is a top-up scholarship, valued at $10,000 per annum, for three years with two possible extensions of up to 6 months each in approved circumstances (conditions apply).

Applicants for this top up scholarship are also able to be considered for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Scholarship that provides a base living allowance.


For further information, please contact Dr Carlos Miraldo Ordens at +61 7 3346 4021

How to apply

To apply for admission and scholarship, follow this link. There is no separate application for scholarship because you will have the opportunity to request scholarship consideration on the application for admission.

Before submitting an application you should:

When you apply, please ensure that under the scholarships and collaborative study section you:

  1. Select ‘My higher degree is not collaborative’
  2. Select ‘I am applying for, or have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship’.
  3. Select ‘Other’, then ‘Research Project Scholarship’ and type in ‘HYDROGEOLOGY-ATSIRS’ in the ‘Name of scholarship’ field.

Remember to upload a certified copy of your confirmation of your Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status with your documents.

See an example of what you have to do

Learn more about applying for a higher degree by research at UQ

Advertised: 02 Sep 2021
Applications close: 31 Dec 2021 (11:00 PM) E. Australia Standard Time

Apply now

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