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Uni graduate helps address issues with red mud and scoops major award

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The director of a consulting company has scooped a major university award, for her efforts to protect the environment.

Cherrell Picton was recognised as the University of the Sunshine Coast’s new Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, after addressing issues associated with red mud.

For every ton of alumina manufactured, another ton of blood red industrial waste is left behind.

Red mud, a bauxite residue, is now one of the most abundant and harmful industrial wastes on the planet, but Ms Picton is helping turn the environmental scourge into an asset.

“I had a lightbulb moment while a UniSC student: I really had to get involved in this red mud business,” she said.

“The opportunity to solve a major industry environmental problem was too big not to do something.”

As director and business manager at Alumtek Minerals, she is part of a team that has developed a process to extract the critical minerals vanadium, titanium and gallium from this red waste, creating a new product badly needed in the cement industry.

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Ms Picton completed her Executive Master of Business Administration degree at UniSC in 2019 after enrolling at the age of 59.

UniSC Vice-Chancellor and president Professor Helen Bartlett said Ms Picton’s work was a shining example of how industry could make a positive impact on sustainable practice.

“As a university that aligns its values with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, we applaud Cherrell’s valuable contribution to minimising the environmental impact of manufacturing, while commercialising its processes for others,” she said.

Professor Bartlett also congratulated UniSC’s other 2023 Outstanding Alumni Award recipients, Rising Star UniSC journalism graduate Nicole Hegarty and Regional Achievement Award winner Bronte Cresswell, a public relations graduate.

Regional Achievement Award winner Bronte Cresswell.

Ms Cresswell received a Bachelor of Public Relations 2017 and has since built a reputation as a digital marketing professional on the Sunshine Coast.

She was named the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network 2022 Young Business Woman of the Year and continues to build her influence and impact as a founder and executive member of the Young Chamber of Commerce.

After successfully building a successful digital marketing agency, Ms Cresswell sold the business in 2022 to build Dash Academy, training business owners in effective social media marketing.

Rising Star UniSC journalism graduate Nicole Hegarty.

Ms Hegarty has experienced a rapid career growth from regional reporter to Canberra as a national political reporter.

In this role, she’s interviewed the Prime Minister, senior ministers and foreign leaders, and reported for ABC’s AM current affairs program, Radio National and News Breakfast.

Ms Hegarty informs the public on matters of national significance, offering a unique regional perspective, while ensuring people from diverse backgrounds are heard nationally. She also mentors and volunteers with community groups and engages with the professional community.

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