Research overview and recent examples

Centre members overview our research approach

  • COEMinerals is a vibrant research community determined to accelerate the realisation of the zero-emission mine’. We bring together expertise in the design of microbial-expressed peptide sequences, with the world’s pre-eminent polymer and physical chemists, and draw on more than 200 years of engineering capability to conceive, develop and implement ground-breaking innovation and technological solutions to impact transformative change in the global minerals industry. In doing so, we develop new scientific knowledge and empower the next generation of sector leaders,” Centre Chief Investigator, Professor Grant Webber
  • A prominent and positive feature of Centre research is its interdisciplinary nature, which involves close collaboration between different nodes of the Centre and includes the exchange of research material (such as equipment, reagents and ores) as well as staff and students from several Centre nodes working on complementary aspects of various research problems,” Centre Chief Investigator & Research Review Committee lead Professor Chris Aldrich
  • Internode collaboration brings people with different but complementary skills and talents together to reach a better end. Our research directly contributes to the recovery of minerals that will shape future technology,” Centre Chief Investigator, Associate Professor Seher Ata
  • Our approach is process application driven, and as such, we conduct problem-solving research with tangible outcomes for industry,” Centre Research Associate Dr Erica Avalar

Research Program Committee 

This committee comprises research leaders from each program who oversee projects within each Research Program (as outlined below). They review project progress quarterly, providing feedback to the Research Program Review Committee.

  • Program 1 leaders – Laureate Professor Kevin Galvin (lead), Professor Bill Skinner and Laureate Professor Graeme Jameson 
  • Program 2 leaders – Professor George Franks (lead) and Associate Professor Liza Forbes 
  • Program 3 leaders – Professor Chun-Xia Zhao (lead), Professor San Thang and Professor David Beattie

Research Review Committee 

This committee consists of Research Theme Leaders who ensure the individual Research Programs (as outlined below) not only deliver on achieving excellence in advancing their core science but remain committed to delivering on the thematic core research objectives. They also review the effectiveness of the cross-program collaboration in achieving the core research (thematic) objectives, including the Centre’s translation to industry. 

  • Professor Chris Aldrich, Centre Chief Investigator 
  • Professor Peter Scales, Centre Chief Investigator
  • Associate Professor Kym Runge, Centre Chief Investigator
  • Dr Eirini Goudeli, Centre Associate Investigator

See a list of published research here

See a list of recent conference presentations here

Three Key Research Themes / Objectives

Centre research is focussed on delivering change in three key areas (Thematic Objectives):

  • Thematic Objective 1 – Early gangue (waste) rejection, achieved through technology advances in coarse particle beneficiation, to minimise energy and water consumption
  • Thematic Objective 2 – Fast, efficient beneficiation to minimise losses of high value metals, achieved through technology advances in fine particle beneficiation, to maximise resource recovery and product grade
  • Thematic Objective 3 – Real time removal of solids from tailings, and rejection of water from solids, achieved through the introduction of novel hydrophobic interactions, and technology advances in dewatering (getting rid of tailings dams)

Minimise Energy & Water Consumption

The process of grinding rocks down to ultrafine particles is the single biggest consumer of energy in the minerals industry. Our objective is to deliver new technologies to reduce the use of energy and water by as much as 50%. 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 offer significant prospects.

Maximise resource recovery and product grade

We will apply our advances in fast and efficient beneficiation of fine particles to achieve a 10 – 100 fold increase in separation speed, and significant reduction in the plant foot-print. This approach helps to redefine economically what is a tailings stream. Our approach will be achieved primarily through enhancing hydrophobic interactions and novel system hydrodynamics, to increase product recovery, selectivity and hence product grade. 

Dry Stackable Tailings (i.e., getting rid of tailings dams)

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

Our Programs

Program 1: Program 1 - 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 Program Leaders are: Laureate Professor Kevin Galvin, Laureate Professor Graeme Jameson and Professor Bill Skinner Dig into the latest detail in our 2022 Annual Report.

Program 2: Program 2 - Chemistry of novel hydrophobic and selective interactions

New approaches to flotation are required to advance selectivity and to properly exploit the full-potential of hydrophobic interactions in effecting coarser separations, ultrafast and selective separations and a step-change in solid-liquid separation. Research Program Leaders: Professor Karen Hapgood, Professor George Franks, Associate Professor Liza Forbes Dig into the latest detail in our 2022 Annual Report.

Program 3: Program 3 - New engineered biopolymers and synthetic polymers

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 Program Leaders: Professor Chun-Xia Zhao, Professor San H. Thang, Professor David Beattie Dig into the latest details in our Annual Report.