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The Institute has existed in various forms, continually supporting research to enable development of the local mining industry to the benefit of the State for almost four decades.

The early years

Established in 1981 as the Western Australian Minerals and Petroleum Research Institute (WAMPRI), the Institute’s founding purpose was to promote and coordinate research and expertise into all aspects of the mining and petroleum industries.

At the time, Minister for Mines Mr Peter Jones, stated “in its role of co-ordinating research, the institute will encourage the industry to do more research to improve the efficiency of its operations through the research facilities available within Western Australia” (Western Australia, Legislative Assembly 1981, 25 March, p135)

The Institute’s first published output was delivered in 1983, a report by J. G. Dunn at the Western Australian Institute of Technology (itself a precursor to the Curtin University of today) examining the flash smelting of nickel sulphide concentrates. At the time, the nickel industry was suffering from a global decline in the related steel industry, and productivity improvements delivered by this research and related studies were key to the survival of local producers.

Changing priorities

In 1987, WAMPRI became the Mineral and Energy Research Institute of Western Australia (MERIWA). This change was driven by the integration of external funding functions from the Solar Energy Research Institute of Western Australia (SERIWA) into WAMPRI, to “promote a more cost-efficient, needs-based use of public funds and to reduce duplication” (Western Australia, Legislative Assembly 1987, 12 November, p5,762)

A focus on minerals research

The current Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA) was established in 2013. The narrowing of the Institute’s remit at this time served both as an acknowledgement of the increased investment in energy research and a recognition of the serious challenges facing the contemporary minerals industry (Western Australia, Legislative Assembly 2013, 16 October, p4,938b-4,939a)

Since this re-focusing MRIWA has served Western Australia by identifying and investing in research addressing the needs of the local mining industry so it can continue to benefit the State.

The MERIWA Effect, a book first published in 2003 by The University of Western Australia Press provides a detailed history of MRIWA’s predecessors.

Read the MERIWA Effect

Page was last reviewed 20 July 2020

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