Sustainable Mining & Mineral Processing

September 2nd, 2019

We are providing the tools and knowledge for Australia to be a global leader in the stewardship of mineral resources, applying our expertise in process science and engineering, and mathematical, environmental and social sciences. Using our extensive technical and research capabilities, CSIRO investigates sustainable mineral development, alternative processing and recovery of value from mining and other value metal containing wastes.

We have provided expertise and knowledge to guide well-informed decisions on mineral resource use strategies for the benefit of the mining industry, governments and communities in Australia and internationally. We are using our multidisciplinary expertise in environmental monitoring and management to minimise impacts from mining; developing new technologies and approaches for mine remediation and rehabilitation and filling knowledge gaps to ensure a sustainable positive legacy for the industry and surrounding communities.

CSIRO is also closing loops and value chains by linking our strong cross-business unit research capabilities to ensure that Australian mining and manufacturing is innovative, productive, competitive and sustainable is vital to Australia’s current and future prosperity.

Going for gold technology 

Developing gold extraction reagents that don’t cost the Earth, but allow you to open up low grade, uneconomic or stranded deposits.  We are developing a range of leach reagents that are far less toxic than cyanide, safer to handle and have a lower environmental risk when compared with cyanide. We believe the potential reduction in regulatory approvals and reporting requirements when compared to cyanide will create process flexibility and increase your options to access a wider range of deposits.

Charcoal for green metal production

A new sustainable process for metal production that reduces the need for fossil fuels and slashes carbon dioxide emissions.

Bioprocessing for sustainable resource management

We harness natural microorganisms to recover resources, degrade contaminants and mitigate harmful environmental impacts, such as acid mine drainage.

Cleaning up contaminated mining wastewater

We developed a new cost-effective technology to treat mining wastewater and reduce sludge by up to 90 per cent. The technology, called Virtual Curtain, was used to remove metal contaminants from wastewater at a Queensland mine and the equivalent of around 20 Olympic swimming pools of rainwater-quality water was safely discharged.

Low waste phosphate production

A new smelting process for phosphate ores could open up the world’s lower grade reserves, while solving the industry’s waste problem. The solution has been licensed to an Australian company with plans to take it to the global market

Ore sorting to minimise processing waste

Mining low grade ores is costing companies heavily on processing tonnes of waste rock. By rapidly sorting high value ore from waste on a conveyor using magnetic resonance technology, bulk ore sorting offers a step change in productivity for copper miners.

Above ground mining – resource recycling

Australia is in the embryonic stages of an industrial recycling culture that can reshape and reinvigorate industries and help sustain our resources, society and the planet.

Wealth from Waste

Wealth from Waste is a three-year research program that builds on work undertaken by the Mineral Futures Collaboration Cluster (2009-2012). It focuses on ‘mining’ above ground resources, which are the metals contained in collections of discarded manufactured products and consumer goods.