Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto

Project name

Managing groundwater in complex mining landscapes using advanced dating techniques.

Project description

The voids created by large-scale mining across Australia will require extensive management in perpetuity in the post-mining landscape. However, the ability to predict future water levels and salinity in mining voids is often constrained by the poor conceptual understanding of the surrounding groundwater systems. This study will use state-of-the-art environmental tracer measurements to characterise groundwater systems in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, where extensive mining is currently occurring. The tracers will include radiogenic noble gases and radioactive noble gases (85Kr, 39Ar and 81Kr) which together can ‘age’ groundwater at almost any timescale, years to billions of years, without many of the limitations of traditional tracer techniques. The measurements will be made using the new facilities currently being built for radiogenic noble gases at CSIRO (Helix mass-spectrometer) and radioactive noble gases at the UofA (Atom Trap Trace Analysis – ATTA).

Ideal candidate

  • A geologist, chemist or physicist with a sound understanding of the theory behind noble gas measurements to help with the completion of the new facilities.
  • A pragmatic individual able to adapt new techniques to the challenging conditions associated with groundwater investigations in remote regions of Australia.
  • Good interpersonal skills will be required because planning groundwater investigations in remote areas requires extensive consultations with aboriginal communities, pastoralists, various levels of government as well as the private sector.






CSIRO Partner Industry Partner University of Adelaide Partner
Business Unit:
Land & Water 
Rio Tinto
Research & Innovation
Research Program:
Water Resources Management
  School or Centre:
Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS)
CSIRO Supervisor:
Sebastien Lamontagne
  UofA Supervisor(s):
Professor Andre Luiten/ Dr Phil Light

Application instructions

Please read all instructions carefully.

To apply for the Industry PhD program, you need to apply for Admission Only using the University of Adelaide’s online application form. Within the online application form you may be presented with 3 types of applications to select from. Please select “Admission Only”. You will be instructed below how to indicate your CSIRO project selection.

Apply now

Applications are now open.

  • Applications will be accepted up to 30 April 2019 or until the position is filled.
  • Please refer to our guide on submitting an application.
  • In addition you will need to submit an “Additional Information” form for each project that you want to apply for. Once complete it must be emailed as a PDF document to
  • Specific notes on completing the online application form sections “Study Preference” and “Research Interests” are outlined below.

Study preferences - Rio Tinto

Add a Study Preference
Step 1-4:
Study type: Doctor of Philosophy
Award: Doctor of Philosophy in Sciences
School: School of Physical Sciences
Research Area: Physics
Study Conditions
Proposed study load: Full Time
Proposed attendance mode: Internal
Proposed start date: Between 1/2/2019 and 15/7/2019 as agreed with supervisor

Research interests:

Please provide a brief statement of your research interests:

At the beginning of this free text field, list each project title for which you would like to be considered:

  • Agilent Technologies Australia: Identification, characterisation and exploitation of bioactive compounds from plant biomass.
  • Incitec Pivot Fertilisers: Increasing nitrogen use efficiency with micronutrient coatings for urea fertiliser.
  • Rio Tinto: Managing groundwater in complex mining landscapes using advanced dating techniques.
  • Andromeda Metals Limited: High Performance Solid-State Li-ion Battery based on Halloysite Additives for Next Generation Energy Storage Applications.

NOTE: A separate “Additional Information” form must be completed for each project you wish to be considered for. These forms must be emailed in PDF format to immediately after you have submitted your application for Admission.

Research interests: Proposed supervisor:

If you have indicated more than one CSIRO project, please include relevant supervisor name/s:

  • Agilent Technologies Australia: Professor Vincent Bulone.
  • Incitec Pivot Fertilisers: Dr Ron Smernik/Prof Ganga Hettiarachchi.
  • Rio Tinto: Professor Andre Luiten/Dr Phil Light.
  • Andromeda Metals Limited: Dr Deepak P Dubal.

Continue completing all other sections of the online application form and upload all required documents.


  • Completed your “Admission Only” online application form.
  • Included CSIRO Project Title/s and Proposed Supervisor/s in the Research Interests field of your application.
  • Uploaded all other required documentation and submitted your online application.
  • Filled out the Additional Information form/s for each project you wish to be considered for.
  • Emailed PDF versions of your completed Additional Information form/s to

General information on your application

  • Once submitted, your application will be reviewed to determine your eligibility to be admitted to the PhD Program.
  • Applicants due to complete their undergraduate or honours programs in Semester 1 are eligible to apply, however, any offer would be conditional on successful completion of the degree.
  • Your eligibility to be considered for the Industry PhD program of your choice will be reviewed.
  • If you meet the eligibility requirements, you will be contacted for a formal interview by CSIRO and the University.
  • You will be notified of the outcome of your application following the interview.
  • If your application is unsuccessful, your online application for Admission will be closed.
  • Should you wish to apply for a PhD program unrelated to the CSIRO Industry PhD program, you will need to submit a separate new application for Admission and Scholarship during one of the 2 rounds held each year. The Mid-Year Round opens early April and closes 30 May, while the Major Round opens 1 September and closes 31 October.


If you require assistance with the online application process please contact:
Adelaide Graduate Centre Senior Scholarships Officers
Phone: +61 8 8313 3044

For any other enquiries about the CSIRO Industry PhD Program please contact:
HDR Industry Enquiries
Tel: +61 8 8313 9127
Free-call: 1800 061 459