A New Dawn for Australian Minerals

ARC Centre of Excellence for Enabling Eco-Efficient Beneficiation of Minerals

An Opportunity to Make a Difference

The green economy, digital revolution, improved health and living standards all depend on metals supplied at a minimal environmental cost. However, the declining grade of the more accessible minerals, increasing complexity of mineralogy, and the growing need to extract the minerals from deeper mines, have reached a tipping point, making current practices technologically, economically, and environmentally unsustainable.

Australian Research Council logo

The Centre will develop transformational technologies for enabling a competitive and environmentally sustainable future for Australia’s minerals industry through:

  • reduced environmental footprint
  • significant reductions in energy and water use
  • higher resources recovery
  • future leaders to support the sector

This Centre will transform the minerals industry, establishing a new generation of research leaders to support the innovation needed in creating a green economy for future generations.

Why Transform?

Technology Metals

Our growing need for new technology imposes extraordinary demands for minerals extracted from the earth. Almost everything today is either made from minerals or reliant on mineral production: electric vehicles, whitegoods, laptops, healthcare and medicine.

More than 60 different metals are required to make a smartphone including gold, copper, aluminium, silver, zinc and lead. Rare earths provide smartphones with their functionality, to vibrate or even to generate the colour display. [1]

Metals are critical to providing essential medical technologies. Copper is found in MRI scanners and is vital in medical equipment due to its anti-microbial properties. Titanium is used for surgical equipment due to its bacterial resistance; and silver is present in some antibiotics for accelerating the healing process. [2]

Enabling Transformation for a Greener Economy

The recovery and concentration of particles of high metallurgical value, known as beneficiation, is based on relatively mature paradigms. The industry has evolved gradually over more than a century, however flotation processing rates per unit of vessel area have not increased during that period. The waste, which often requires massive tailings dams, results in excessive water consumption, and risk of a catastrophic tailings breach.

With a projected global population of nine billion by 2050, and the demand for minerals set to soon outstrip supply, the industry faces an unprecedented challenge.

This Centre aims to transform the industry through research programs focused on three goals:

Energy and Water

To double energy and water productivity in the mining sector by 2030, maintaining the drive towards the zero- emission mine’. 

Mineral Recovery

To reduce loss of high value metals during minerals processing by 90%, increasing the concentration of recovered products used in metals refining. 

New Generation

To establish a new generation of scientists and research leaders in minerals beneficiation to support the innovation needed to sustain the Australian industry.

Innovation Objectives

We will establish transformational technologies which will deliver the basic elements needed to address the need for unprecedented change to the practice of minerals processing. Our programs and projects have three eco-efficient objectives.

Smart Processing

The process of grinding rocks down to ultrafine particles is the single biggest consumer of energy in the minerals industry. The introduction of new technologies provides the opportunity to reduce the use of energy and water by as much as 50%. Such new technologies include new crushing modes to achieve fracture along the mineral grain boundaries, novel reagents and new separators to remove the waste rock at a coarser size.

100% Water Recycling

We will apply our advances in fast, efficient beneficiation’ of fine particles to solid-liquid separation in order to increase product recovery and to recover waste solids, reducing water wastage and increasing water productivity. We will then recover targeted solids and exploit hydrophobic interactions to enhance de-watering.

Maximising Resource Efficiency

New transformational technologies will deliver a 10 – 100-fold increase in separation speed of fine particles. This will reduce the footprint and cost of the processing plant and promote a step change increase in the grade and recovery of the valuable minerals for metals production.

Interested in Learning More

If you are interested in; finding out more about our Centre; sharing your feedback and insights; or joining our team as a student or a researcher, click on the link below to register your expression of interest, and we would be happy to provide you with any additional information.

Our Program

Engineering

Physics of novel system hydrodynamics

Maximising the robustness, efficiency, and speed of separation are critical elements of any transformational mineral beneficiation technology. This will be achieved by building knowledge and understanding of a broad range of novel hydrodynamic systems to determine the potential to approach the theoretical limits of separation, traversing the particle size range of interest.

Research Lead

Laureate Professor Kevin Galvin

Physical Chemistry

Chemistry of novel hydrophobic and selective interactions

For the last 100 years, high value minerals have been ground to a fine particle size and then separated by adsorbing reagents, known as collectors, onto the mineral surface to make the minerals hydrophobic, and attraced to bubble interfaces. New approaches are needed to exploit the full potential of hydrophobic interactions for i) separating coarser particles, ii) ultrafast and selective separations, and iii) separating almost all the liquid from the mineral particles at the end of the separation process.

Research Lead

Professor Karen Hapgood

Polymers

New engineered biopolymers and synthetic polymers

Application of polymers as collectors in minerals processing is relatively new. Polymers have traditionally been used in flotation to suppress recovery of certain minerals, while high molecular weight polyacrylamides have been the foundation of flocculation in solid-liquid separation. New approaches to the synthesis of more effective and cheaper polymers are now available for exploitation in minerals processing. These could lead to better concentrate grades, higher mineral recovery and new polymers to achieve improved water recovery.

Research Lead

Associate Professor Chun-Xia Zhao

Addressing the challenges

These are problems that have not been solved yet. The green economy needs this to be done.

Mentorship, Training & Development

Mentorship beyond the standard PhD, tools, training, conferences, collaboration.

Delivering world leading impact

Enable a cleaner new economy through innovative, world leading research.

Our Team

University of Newcastle
Laureate Professor Kevin Galvin
Bio
University of Queensland
Associate Professor Chun-Xia Zhao
Bio
Deakin University
Professor Karen Hapgood
Bio
University of South Australia
Professor William Skinner
Bio
Monash University
Professor San Thang
Bio
University of Newcastle
Laureate Professor Graeme Jameson
Bio
University of Queensland
Dr Liza Forbes
Bio
University of Melbourne
Professor George Franks
Bio
University of South Australia
Professor David Beattie
Bio
Monash University
Dr Boon Teo
Bio
University of Newcastle
Professor Geoffrey Evans
Bio
University of Queensland
Professor Neville Plint
Bio
University of Melbourne
Professor Peter Scales
Bio
Curtin University
Professor Jacques Eksteen
Bio
University of NSW
Associate Professor Seher Ata
Bio
University of Newcastle
Professor Erica Wanless
Bio
University of Queensland
Associate Professor Kym Runge
Bio
University of Melbourne
Dr Anthony Stickland
Bio
University of South Australia
Associate Professor Marta Krasowska
Bio
The University of Sheffield
Professor Steven Armes
Bio
University of Newcastle
Associate Professor Elham Doroodchi
Bio
University of Queensland
Professor Anh Nguyen
Bio
Deakin University
Dr Ellen Moon
Bio
University of Colorado Boulder
Professor Robert H. Davis
Bio
Harvard University
Professor David Weitz
Bio
University of Newcastle
Associate Professor Grant Webber
Bio
University of Queensland
Professor Yongjun Peng
Bio
Southern University of Science and Technology
Professor Zhenghe Xu
Bio
Virginia Tech
Professor Roe-Hoan Yoon
Bio
CSIRO
Dr Graeme Moad
Bio
University of Newcastle
Dr Roberto Moreno-Atanasio
Bio
University of Queensland
Dr Susana Brito e Abreu
Bio
The University of Utah
Professor Jan Miller
Bio
Virginia Tech
Associate Professor Aaron Noble
Bio
CSIRO
Dr Ben Muir
Bio
University of Newcastle
Associate Professor Kenneth Williams
Bio
University of Queensland
Dr Angus Morrison
Bio
Imperial College London
Professor Jan Cilliers
Bio
CSIRO
Dr Colin MacRae
Bio
CSIRO
Dr Nathan Webster
Bio
University of Newcastle
Dr Peter Ireland
Bio
Universidad de Concepcion
Professor Fernando Concha
Bio
Imperial College London
Dr Kathyrn Hadler
Bio

Prospective PhD Candidates

Be a part of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Enabling Eco-Efficient Beneficiation of Minerals, by registering your interest in a wide range of PhD projects that are strongly connected to the minerals industry. We are looking for candidates with a science or engineering background. The Australian minerals industry is undergoing a transformation in the diversity of their workforce and our Centre will reflect this too. We have a specific diversity target of 50% female PhD students, but candidates with different experience profiles, or with cultural and linguistic backgrounds, are also very welcome to apply. Please register your interest at the link below. You can specify if you are interested in projects in a particular state, institution, with a particular researcher, or in a particular research area. 

You can be a part of our team of research leaders who will support the innovation needed to create a green economy and enable a competitive and environmentally sustainable future for Australia’s minerals industry.

Please submit your One Page Expression of Interest with a short outline on your PhD interests, location/​project preferences, current qualification and experience, contact details and a brief explanation of why you would like to be a part of this Centre of Excellence.

Partner Organisations

Industry Partners