Australia’s mining industry will continue to generate jobs and economic growth with the assistance of Commonwealth Government-funded research to keep it at the forefront of innovation.

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

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Enabling Eco-Efficient Beneficiation of Minerals will be led by Professor Kevin Galvin and undertake research to position Australia’s mining industry as a world leader for driving down costs and increasing operational efficiencies.

From left to right: Lucy Wicks MP, Laureate Professor Kevin Galvin, Professor Deborah Hodgson, Professor Alan Broadfoot, and Professor Brett Ninness

“We’re investing in research that will make operations more efficient for mineral separation, minimising losses of high-value minerals, developing new ways to remove solids from waste stream tailings and maximising water recovery,” Minister for Education Dan Tehan said.

The Government has backed the establishment of the new research centre to develop more selective and faster methods for the separation of valuable minerals.

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

Training a new generation of scientists and research leaders to help keep Australia ahead in the global mining innovation race will be a key focus of the centre.

The Centre and university will collaborate with researchers from seven Australian universities, CSIRO, industry partner organisations, as well as leading international researchers.

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

“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,” he said.

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

“For the students, it offers a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to be part of a world-first project that can make a practical difference to the future of this planet.

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

More information about the ARC Centres of Excellence program is on the ARC website.