Discover and develop critical mineral resources.
“Based on a conservative estimate, Australia could add ~$9.4 billion of value to the nation's mineral and metal production (currently valued at $112.2 billion) through the production of four critical commodities (hafnium, niobium, rare earth elements and scandium) from existing mines and favourable deposits.” Critical Minerals in Australia: A Review of Opportunities and Research Needs, Geoscience Australia, 2018
The Australian Critical Mineral Research Centre is the go-to group for multidisciplinary research programs. It is the only one of its kind in Australia, and one of only a few worldwide.
We cover end-to-end critical minerals research and education, from early prosectivity analyses to resource definition to mineral processing.
Benefits to partners
- Access to a critical mass of world-class researchers at The University of Adelaide and our Australian and international research partners
- Access to our industry partners, many of whom are long-standing investors in research
- Access to state, territory and federal government partners, including Geoscience Australia and state and territory geological surveys.
- Be part of a research initiative that has strong support from the Critical Minerals Facilitation Office
- Priority acces to the results of projects, including, upon contractual agreement, first rights to commericalise IP
- Ability to make suggestions to research programs and provide advice to research teams
Our industry partners
The centre, via The University of Adelaide, runs projects or engages closely with research-active companies:
- Mining and exploration companies including BHP Olympic Dam, OZ Minerals, Fortescue Metals Group, Havilah Resources, Glencore, Northern Minerals, Lynas Corporation, Iluka Resources, and Nyrstar
- Mining equipment, technology and services companies, including Boart Longyear, Orica, Bureau Veritas, Scantech, Maggoteaux, Manta Controls, and many others.
Our research partners
Long-standing research partners provide complementary expertise in geology, mineral chemistry and minerals processing:
- University of South Australia, including its Future Industries Institute
- Australian National University
- University of Queensland
- Curtin University
- Monash University
- James Cook University
- Ongoing research partnerships with Geoscience Australia and most state and territory geological surveys
- Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
Our partners also have access to the many consortia our researchers are part of, which work on similar industry challenges:
- ARC Research Hub for Australian Copper-Uranium
- MinEx CRC
- ARC Training Centre for Integrated Operations for Complex Resources
- Centre for Radiation Research Education and Innovation (CRREI)
- CRC ORE
- Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources (IMER)
- Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS)
- PRIF “Integrated Mining Consortium”
- Centre for Sustainable Planetary and Space Resources
- Centre for Energy Technology
The rapid transition to a high-tech, low carbon environment will herald unprecedented societal changes across the globe.
The centre is responding to the following key challenges:
- Transition to renewable energy. In the next two decades, wind, solar and hydro power will displace fossil fuels as primary global energy suppliers, and electric vehicles will overtake the internal combustion engine as our dominant mode of transport. Essential to enabling this transition will be an ongoing and secure supply of critical metals, such as rare earth elements (REEs), cobalt, lithium, indium, germanium, gallium, niobium, tantalum and tungsten. These metals are key ingredients for turbines, motors and batteries for energy generation and storage, as well as the high-tech enabling devices used by society, including for national security and defence. Many of these metals carry significant risk of supply due to geopolitical, environmental, economic or social issues. Alternative supply chains are urgently needed.
- Critical minerals knowledge. With a well-established, modern mineral resources sector and highly prospective geology, Australia is primed to be a global supplier of critical mineral products, including the above metals but also other critical mineral commodities, including tellurium. Federal, state and territory governments are actively seeking international trade partnerships and industry investment in critical minerals, but there remain fundamental roadblocks to advancing the national critical minerals potential.
- Critical minerals endowment. Critical (or strategic) minerals are vital to the next generation of global technologies. Most are subject to regional and geopolitical supply concerns. Australia recognises their importance (see Geoscience Australia’s webpage about this) but, like other jurisdictions (e.g. UK, USA, EU, Japan), not much work has been done yet to to identify our potential for future supply.
Contact us to express your interest in one of the following research project ideas:
- Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Critical Minerals (bid under development, with partners Monash University, Curtin University, UniSA, ANU, University of Queensland plus several industry, national and state organisations) – contact Professor Nigel Cook. Apply for funding commencing in 2023. The proposed bid is aligned to areas of national Science and Research Priorities. We have already received strong support for the idea from the Department for Energy and Mining, SA Government and the Geological Survey of South Australia. CoEs must be bold, future-focussed and involve top-tier researchers across Australia.
- Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Hub Advanced Manufacturing 2D Materials (bid under development) – contact Professor Dusan Losic.
- Mineral Exploration Cooperative Research Centre (MinEx CRC) – contact Professor Alan Collins.
- Copper for Tomorrow Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) bid under development for 2022. - contact Professor Michael Goodsite.
- Proposals to investigate the mineral exploration potential of the Curnamona Province, eastern South Australia.
- Roadmap for recovery of by-product cobalt and rare earths from Cu-Au ores. Ongoing engagement.
- Partnership with METS companies to develop new tools for critical mineral exploration based on drilling technologies and machine learning capabilities developed previously. Ongoing engagement.
- Identifying alternative, low-carbon metallurgical methods for critical mineral recovery (as a potential component project within the proposed Heavy Industry Low-carbon Transition (HILT) CRC).
- Proposals and discussions around the recovery of critical minerals from mineral sands deposits within various locations in Australia.
- Proposals to extract critical minerals from mineral processing streams within existing facilities in South Australia.