Research leading to more sustainable steel production could result from a new agreement signed by one of the world's top steel producers and four Australian universities.

Shanghai-based Baosteel Group, one of the world's top three steel producers, has partnered with The University of Queensland (UQ), University of New South Wales, Monash University, and the University of Wollongong to establish the Baosteel-Australia Joint Research and Development Centre.

The centre will seek to create fundamental knowledge and exploitable technologies with commercial relevance to steel industry. It will focus on metallurgy and new materials, energy utilisation, environmental sustainability and other new technologies.

Baosteel will provide up to $25 million over five years for research and development projects at the centre.

The Joint R&D Centre will be headquartered at UQ's St Lucia campus in Brisbane. Its Technical Advisory Committee is chaired by Scientia Professor Aibing Yu, of the UNSW School of Materials Science and Engineering.

"We will now start to assess research proposals from the four universities and we hope the funding to research in the centre will start from July 2011," says Professor Yu.

The Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Mr Jia Qinglin, attended the Centre's launch and unveiled a plaque at UQ.

Baosteel Group chairman Mr Lejiang Xu led a delegation of Baosteel executives to Australia for the signing of the agreement and attended the centre's launch at UQ last week.

"Baosteel and Australia have enjoyed good collaborative relationships for quite a long time," Mr Xu said.

"The establishment of the Baosteel-Australia Joint Research and Development Centre will broaden the areas of collaboration, and elevate the existing collaboration to new heights.

"The Baosteel-Australia Joint Research and Development Centre is the first R&D Centre that Baosteel has set up overseas, so we regard it as a milestone.

"The Centre will provide Baosteel with technological support through high quality research projects, and it will explore a sustainable development route for the high carbon steel industry.

"All the partners will work closely in a complementary way. We seek to realise research development and achieve a mutual win-win situation."

UQ's Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Paul Greenfield, said Chinese companies had invested billions of dollars in Australian ore mining and supply chains, and he welcomed Baosteel's extension of its investments into high-quality Australian research.

"Partnership with a giant manufacturer and consumer of Australian resources will enable UQ researchers to target practical solutions to global manufacturing and sustainability problems," Professor Greenfield said.

"Collaboration with three other Australian universities will add value to the R&D centre's projects, and give altitude to the international reputation of Australian university research."

Media contact: Bob Beale, Faculty of Science media officer | 0411 705 435 |