Photo a hand holding a palm-full of soil with two seedlings growing in it.

One of the Flagship's goals is to help the minerals industry reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Driving sustainability through systems innovation

Australia's minerals industry needs to ensure that using our mineral resources does not come at the expense of the environment. CSIRO research into sustainable processing will help the industry achieve this balance.

  • 18 March 2010 | Updated 7 November 2013

Overview

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CSIRO initiated the Minerals Down Under Flagship to provide science-based solutions to Australia’s major research challenges in the minerals domain.

One of the areas of focus for the Flagship’s research is sustainable processing through system innovation.

The challenges

The minerals industry can only operate through the existence of an informal social ‘licence to operate’.

This ‘licence’ is located in societal expectations that the impacts of mineral operations are outweighed by the benefits they bring.

As the future unfolds, societal expectations and acceptance of this trade-off may change. However, as the mineral sector is critical to Australia’s prosperity, it is vital that Australia develops and employs innovative technologies to minimise the impacts and maximise the benefits of mineral operations.

A photograph of a female scientist in a laboratory. She is standing next to a large tray of red mud - a waste produced during the processing of bauxite.

Reducing emissions and wastes generated during minerals processing and metal production are key goals for the Minerals Down Under Flagship.

The goal

The Minerals Down Under Flagship will develop technologies to reduce the environmental impact of the mineral processing sector and explore the future of the mineral industry’s social ‘licence to operate’.

Specific objectives are to reduce average unit greenhouse gas emissions, average unit water usage and average unit residue production by 20 per cent of 2007 levels by 2025.

Achieving the goal

Four research streams have been developed to achieve this goal.

Each stream is made up of a series of integrated research projects focused on specific resource challenges.

The research streams are:

  • mineral futures
  • technologies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • technologies for reducing fresh water usage
  • towards zero waste and emission of minor elements.