A new AU$35 million Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence based at the University of Newcastle will make mineral processing more environmentally sustainable and do much to secure the future availability of the metals we depend on for modern living.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Enabling Eco-Efficient Beneficiation of Minerals will work towards achieving zero-emission mining by doubling energy and water productivity, and reducing the loss of high value metals during processing by up to 90 per cent.

University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alex Zelinsky AO, said the research will have lasting environmental benefits.

“We’re delighted to receive this significant funding, which will enable us to carry out world-leading research into developing more efficient and environmentally-friendly mineral processing.”

The Centre will be led by Laureate Professor Kevin Galvin and will see the University of Newcastle collaborate with researchers from seven Australian universities, CSIRO, industry partner organisations, as well as leading international researchers.

“Some minerals are becoming difficult to access and extract, while high usage of energy and water in processing make it expensive and environmentally demanding,” Professor Galvin said.

“These pressures make it urgent that we transform the value addition of mineral processing, known as beneficiation, to achieve a step-change reduction in the environmental footprint.

“Through this investment, more than 70 PhD students and 15 post-doctoral researchers will work towards achieving ‘transformational’ solutions, working across multiple research disciplines.

“This new dawn will ensure a sustainable and competitive future for a critical Australian industry, involving a whole new generation of scientists and engineers.”

The funding was announced at the University of Newcastle’s Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) by Member for Robertson, Lucy Wicks.

“The centre will closely engage with industry partners and end-users, establishing new technologies, chemical reagents, and innovative processes to transform the minerals industry,” Ms Wicks said.

*Article published in the October-December 2019 issue of The Asia Miner

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