Geoscience Australia is developing a national database

Geoscience Australia has partnered with the University of Queensland, RMIT University and the Geological Survey of Queensland to develop a first-ever national database of mine waste sites across the country and the minerals that could potentially be present .

the Australian Mining Waste Atlas of the Australian government’s $225 million Exploring for the Future program highlights new opportunities for recovering valuable minerals – a concept known as secondary prospectivity.

The team will also create a methodology to assess whether recovering any of these minerals is economically viable, which will then be incorporated into Geoscience Australia’s Economic Fairways tool, helping to inform Australian resource sector investment decisions. .

The head of Geoscience Australia’s minerals, energy and groundwater division, Andrew Heap, said that in addition to new discoveries, mine waste sites could provide additional sources of critical minerals, which are essential ingredients in many modern technologies, including smartphones, batteries and electric vehicles.

“Critical minerals such as cobalt and platinum group elements can be recovered as by-products of ore processing of major commodities like copper and nickel,” Heap said.

“Scientists from Geoscience Australia will join forces with experts from the University of Queensland, RMIT University and the Geological Survey of Queensland to build the Australian Mining Waste Atlas to highlight these opportunities at scale. national.

“This will enhance Australia’s reputation as the world’s leading supplier of critical minerals, while ensuring the country maintains its credentials for environmental, social and governance best practice.”

Maximizing the secondary prospectivity potential of existing mines also presents a new opportunity for mining companies looking to improve the sustainability and social license of their operations.

The Atlas will build on an approach developed by the University of Queensland and the Geological Survey of Queensland’s Secondary Survey Project, which identifies mining waste recycling sites across Queensland.

“This project originally focused on the potential for cobalt in copper tailings in the Mount Isa area, before our investigations extended to tailings dams and mine storage facilities throughout Queensland” , said Helen Degeling, director of mineral geoscience at the Geological Survey of Queensland.

“We are excited that this concept is now being applied across the country to help meet the growing global demand for new economy metals in a more sustainable way.”

Anita Parbhakar-Fox, associate professor at the University of Queensland, said reprocessing tailings could make more financial and environmental sense than other mine rehabilitation options, especially in finding metals. reviews.

“Based on some of our field investigations, we’ve demonstrated that you can turn trash into a gold mine, literally,” Parbhakar-Fox said.

This activity will also integrate cutting-edge expertise within the RMIT research team, led by Associate Professor Gavin Mudd.

“Assessing how mining waste could be reprocessed to generate a potentially large new resource stream is one of the best ways to create a sustainable supply chain, especially for critical minerals,” Mudd said.

“The reprocessing of mine waste can also support the continued remediation of historic mines to modern standards, which is a great outcome for Australian communities and the environment.”

Mining companies are encouraged to contribute to the construction of this Atlas by allowing researchers to sample mining waste at their sites. To participate, contact us through the Exploring for the Future website.