UQ is an international leader in Mining and Minerals Processing research, collaborating with some of the largest mineral and mining companies worldwide including Glencore, Rio Tinto, Anglo American and BHP Billiton. Research activities range from fundamental to applied research into design, construction, operational and closure problems associated with mining, metallurgy and processing. Our research has a direct impact on the minerals industry across the globe.

UQ’s Mining and Minerals Processing researchers are engaged in innovative work transcending traditional disciplinary boundaries, in diverse areas such geomaterials modelling, experimental and computational geomechanics, innovative mining methods, mine automation, mine planning, field instrumentation and monitoring, laboratory modelling and characterisation as well as mine waste management, mine closure and minerals processing. In a further world leading initiative, UQ’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) is dedicated to finding knowledge-based solutions to the sustainability challenges of the minerals industry.

UQ researchers are recognised through the receipt of some of Australia’s most prestigious engineering and scientific awards including an ATSE Clunies Ross Award in 2012, the 2013 Thayer Lindsley Award, the SME’s Robert M Dreyer Award and the Douglas Hay Medal in 2014.

Research occurs at:

  • Resources Engineering
  • Mining and Sustainability
  • Extractive Metallurgy
  • Geomechanics
  • Computational Modelling
  • Mining automation and innovative mining systems
  • Blast Science

UQ has particular expertise in the areas of: 

  • Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, including the Schools of Mechanical and Mining Engineering, Civil Engineering, and Chemical Engineering.
  • Faculty of Science, including the School of Earth Sciences.
  • Sustainable Minerals Institute, including the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre and the WH Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre. 

Mining and Minerals Processing in brief

  • More than 65 full-time equivalent researchers
  • More than 90 PhD and MPhil students in 2014
  • More than 590 publications since 2008
  • More than $105 million in research funding since 2008. In addition, researchers are involved in a large number of consultancy projects with leading mining and minerals based companies
  • Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy research rated above world standard in the 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia exercise.

Highlights of UQ Mining and Minerals Processing

Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC) 

JKMRC is the global mineral industry partner-of-choice for innovation in mineral processing and geometallurgy research. For almost 50 years, the Centre has forged a strong reputation for the delivery of its applied research outcomes and for its postgraduate education program.

Attracting research and consultancy funding of around $15 million annually JKMRC has a number of large “one-on-one” research programs such as the Anglo American Centre for Sustainable Comminution and the Rio Tinto Centre for Advanced Mineral Sorting. An equal amount of activity takes place in industry-wide collaborative projects such as the oldest minerals research project in the world, P9, that has advanced the application of characterisation, modelling and simulation in mineral processing circuits, and P843 that has pioneered GeoMetallurgy. 

WH Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre (BRC) 

BRC is recognised as an international leader in applied and fundamental research into design, construction and operational problems associated with mass mining. It delivers high-value research, leading several global consortiums of industry and research providers, including the Mass Mining Technologies Series, Geology and Mass Mining and the Hybrid Stress Blast Model.  This research is a catalyst for the development of leading industry mining practice and enabling technologies. 

BRC has strong capabilities in:

  • Mining engineering and blast science
  • Mine geology
  • Geostatistics, stochastic modelling and mine process optimisation
  • Computational modelling and predictive rock behaviour.

This expertise is directed at managing technical risk, increasing productivity and establishing competitive advantage in increasingly challenging mining environments such as extracting lower grade ore at greater depths and, in some cases, in very high temperature rock environments. 

Hydrometallurgy Group 

The UQ Hydrometallurgy Research Group has a portfolio of high quality fundamental research across a range of processes relevant to industry sectors from base metals to alumina production. Building on the research capabilities and facilities at the St Lucia campus, the UQ RTA Bauxite and Alumina Technology Centre funded by RioTinto Alcan has been established to provide fundamental and applied research for the alumina industry.

Research is currently focussed on a number of key aspects of processing including precipitation from aqueous solutions, ion exchange, membrane separations and leaching of minerals. Hydrometallurgy research is becoming increasingly important as new process routes for metal extraction are being developed. 

Pyrometallurgy Group 

Pyrosearch, the Pyrometallurgy Research Group, undertakes research for major companies in the minerals industry worldwide in the areas of non-ferrous and ferrous metal smelting and refining, and coal utilisation. The award-winning team has an international reputation for the quality of research outcomes and innovation in research techniques. Pyrosearch has particular expertise in the experimental determination of phase equilibria in complex slag systems relevant to industrial practice and in the development of FactSage chemical thermodynamic databases and software.

The research strengths of the Pyrosearch Group are in the fields of:

  • High Temperature Chemical Thermodynamics and Phase Equilibria
  • Physico-chemical Properties of Slags 
  • Reaction Kinetics and Mechanisms in Metallurgical Systems.

School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering 

The School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering hosts research groups focussed on mining automation, continuous surface mining and in-pit crushing and conveying (IPCC) systems, fibre optic temperature and gas measurement systems for underground mines and coal and energy geomechanics. The School has a number of laboratory facilities at its disposal, including an Immersive laboratory, a 6 degree of freedom robot and a fibre optics laser laboratory.