Resource-rich options for postgraduate students

31 Jan 2014

UQ’s new Centre for International Minerals and Energy Law (CIMEL) combines strong industry links and specialist research expertise, making UQ Law the best choice for postgraduate students pursuing a mining, resources and energy law specialisation.

UQ launched CIMEL in 2013 to focus on quality research and teaching, and to meet the needs of stakeholders in the minerals, petroleum and energy industries.

“We not only fill an information gap in terms of the learning requirements of professionals and students; our cutting-edge research is at the coalface of fundamentally important  issues that are affecting communities, industry and the profession right now,” says CIMEL Director Dr Tina Hunter.

CIMEL’s current research projects include an analysis of the negotiation processes in relation to compensation agreements in coal seam gas exploration and production; the role of intellectual property in the use of certain chemicals in fracking; and the way shale gas activities are regulated around the world.

Dr Hunter says one of the key benefits that CIMEL offers postgraduate students is the opportunity to undertake a research internship with the Centre.  Students who work within CIMEL can choose a topic or be allocated a research area which they can then take ownership of.

“It provides fantastic research and outreach opportunities for students to be a part of the work we’re doing,” she says.

“On completion of their project they will get recognition for the research work - which is significant for enhancing their career opportunities - and during the internship they will work alongside practitioners or companies giving them the chance to network and develop important industry relationships.”

The University of Queensland is home to the Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI), which is an umbrella organisation for a range of smaller research centres in the resources field.

These include the Centre for Coal Seam Gas, the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, and the International Mining for Development Centre (a partnership between UQ’s Sustainable Minerals Institute and The University of Western Australia's Energy and Minerals Institute), with which CIMEL collaborates on a range of research projects.

CIMEL provides support for the legal aspects of the other Centres’ research; in return the SMI Centres provide technical assistance on CIMEL’s research projects.

“We have a really strong symbiotic relationship,” says Dr Hunter, adding that UQ’s multi-disciplinary expertise is one of the reasons the UQ Master of Laws (LLM) mining and resources courses have such a strong reputation among the legal profession.

The LLM course design also means students benefit from UQ’s strong industry links.

“We work closely with the legal profession, and many courses have a large component of teaching by the profession, so students actually learn from the people who are doing this work every day.”

Dr Hunter’s 2013 Oil and Gas Law course included visits from government safety investigators, incident investigators, and members of the legal profession as part of the course. She says this practical approach appeals to both domestic and international postgraduate students.

“There’s a great deal of interest in these courses. It’s not just the opportunity to be able to learn and connect with the profession and industry, but also to get in touch with other jurisdictions working in the sector; I think that’s a distinct advantage for all our students.”

Students with an interest in mining and resources can choose from a broad range of subjects, such as mining law, native title law, and even intellectual property law.

“Intellectual property is actually very useful because there’s a whole range of IP issues in relation to mining, petroleum and energy. Everything from developing new drill heads and tools for extracting minerals and petroleum, to things like fracking fluids; there’s an amazing amount of innovation and patents associated with these things,” explains Dr Hunter.

Click here for information about Mining, Resources and Energy Law courses.