What SMI-CMLR Does

Over the years the CMLR has developed research expertise and knowledge that has spanned the realms of Environmental Geochemistry (“To understand and predict the source, transformations and fate of contaminants”), Landform Stability and Evolution (“To identify properties and processes which define stability of successfully-functioning landforms”), Soil-Plant Systems (“To develop technological solutions for rehabilitating anthropogenic soil-plant systems”), and Landscape Ecology (“To rigorously assess the long-term outcomes of mining activities on ecosystem function”).

More recently, these themes were further developed and built into three Programs, namely Ecosystem Assessment, Restoration and Resilience, Ecological Engineering of Soil-Plant Systems and the cross-disciplinary, Life Cycles of Mines and Metals.

Life Cycle of Mines and Metals

Life Cycle of Mines and Metals

The program has an integrative focus on environmental impacts, social implications, technical innovations and economic factors along the metal value chain and over the life of a mining project or operation. This program provides a multi-disciplinary approach to solving some of the key issues in the industries, with a current focus on creating better value from mining waste (waste rock, overburden and tailings) and mine closure.


Projects within this program

Developing a process for estimating long‐term salinity generation rates to predict salinity levels in coal mine final voids and the residual risk to receiving surface water or groundwater environments Building a tool for knowledge sharing and dissemination of mine rehabilitation and closure in the coal industry (http://mrcwiki.org.au) Identifying the links between climate change, raw material supply and environmental risks Examining the feasibility of mine tailings reprocessing to improve overall metal recovery and minimize the residual environmental risk Identifying economically viable options for the recycling of metals from end-of-life products and industrial waste in Australia (wealthfromwaste.net)

Program Leader

Dr Glen Corder

Program Team

Dr Mansour Edraki
Dr Artem Golev
A/Prof Barry Noller

Program Keywords

circular economy, industrial ecology, rehabilitation, remediation; mine closure, mine wastes, tailings, human health, environmental toxicology, cyanide, acid and metalliferous drainage (AMD), geochemistry, heavy metals, metalloids, salts, recycling, e-waste; value chain,

Related available student projects

  • Eleonore Lebre “Mine waste or future resource? Integrating Industrial Ecology thinking into a mining project
  • Maria Cristina Vegafria “Geochemical pathways of contaminants through weathering and reprocessing of uranium tailings
  • Melinda Hilton “The Generation of Salt from Coal Mine Spoil Heaps

    Ecosystem Assessment, Restoration and Resilience Program

    Synchrotron images of nickel hyperaccumulator Alyssum murale seeds; copper metallophyte community in north-western Queensland; rehabilitated landform at an open-cut coal mine; nickel hyperaccumulator growth trial in Sabah, Malaysia

    The program currently focuses on two key areas: the discovery and utility of metallophyte plants; and, the recovery and sustainability of disturbed land. The program further leads a suite of projects that assess the environmental impacts of mining activities and disturbance on ecosystems, from which innovative approaches to restore ecosystem services are developed.

    Projects within this program

    Application of X-ray fluorescence technology on herbarium collections

    Growth trials using nickel hyperaccumulator plants in Sabah, Malaysia

    Elucidating the cellular distribution and pathways of nickel accumulation in tropical hyperaccumulator plant species

    Application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to capture high-resolution remote sensing data for mine rehabilitation and closure

    Experimental fire on coal mine rehabilitation to assess recovery using field and remotely sensed data

    Program Leader

    Assoc Prof Peter Erskine

    Program Team

    Dr Antony van der Ent
    Mr Phill McKenna
    MS Vanessa Glenn
    Mr Vinod Nath


    completion criteria, hyperaccumulators, drones, frameworks species

    Related Available student Projects

    • Plants and metals: responses and tolerance of metallophyte species
      - Growth potential of Australian native plant species on metalliferous mine wastes
      - Assessment of metallophyte plant communities on greenfield sites
    • Application of hyperspectral and hyper-temporal data collected by UAVs to ecosystem restoration
    • Identification and propagation of understorey species in Kakadu National Park ecosystems
    • Functional analysis of rehabilitated environments—setting criteria and improving ecosystem functions
    • Image processing for environmental applications in mine site rehabilitation
    • Remote sensing for vegetation assessment and classification

    Ecological Engineering of Soil-Plant Systems

    discovery of new knowledge and technologies relating to ecological engineeringThe program currently focuses on the discovery of new knowledge and technologies relating to ecological engineering and the rehabilitation of metal mine tailings and alumina refinery residues. Projects encompass bioweathering of primary minerals in tailings, eco-engineered pedogenesis of tailings, bio-geo-polymerization of tailing minerals for hardpan formation, and the biogeochemistry of the tailings-soil-plant continuum.

    Projects within this program

    In situ engineering red mud into functional soil - A new technology for cost-effective rehabilitation of red mud domains

    Evaluation of key attributes of nutrient cycling in revegetated waste rock landform of Ranger uranium mine

    Eco-engineering soil from mine tailings for native plant rehabilitation

    Building the framework for meeting closure criteria in waste rock dump design and performance

    Developing options and strategies for red mud bioremediation

    Program Leader

    Associate Professor Longbin Huang

    Program Team

    Dr Songlin Wu
    Dr Sebla Kabas
    Dr Fang You
    Allen (Yunjia) Liu
    Felipe Saavedra-Mella
    Lachlan Robertson
    Alex (Tsz Ho) Chiu
    Yi Qing

    Program Keywords

    metal mine tailings, bauxite residue (red mud), mineral bioweathering, geo-microbial ecology, environmental microbial ecology, microspectroscopy, bio-mineral-organo interactions, geo-rhizosphere biology, engineered pedogenesis, technosols, hydrogeochemistry, bio-geopolymerization, hardpan, rhizosphere of metallophytes, soil-plant systems

    Related available student projects

    • Bio-mineral-organo complexation models in tailings
    • Molecular microbial mechanisms in mineral bioweathering and secondary mineral formation
    • Mechanisms of water-stable aggregate formation in red mud
    • Geo-rhizosphere biology in native/metallophyte species in mineralized soil and metal mine tailings
    • Biogenic mineral forms and speciation in metal mine tailings
    • Rhizosphere adaptation to tailing technosols in native plant species
    • Biogenic factors in duricrust formation: from nature to tailings surface
    • Bio-geo-mineral cross-linking mechanisms and hardpan formation in tailings
    • Relationship between soil microbial community structure and trajectory of plant species diversity in revegetated mined land

    CMLR postgraduate research students currently enrolled in a PhD or MPhil (and thesis title):

    • Miguel Alvarado Molina
      Using remote sensors to monitor atmospheric contamination in the extraction industry
    • Tsz Ho Chiu
      Microbial communities and functions in the interfaces of geo-minerals-organic matter-roots
    • Tamar Cohen
      Re-imagining mined land: relating cultural and ecological criteria for the successful rehabilitation of mined land
    • Maria Dumlao
      Eco-efficiency analysis of circular economy around metals in e-wastes
    • Bevan Emmerton
      Bowen Basin Coal Mine spoil classification for improved mine rehabilitation outcomes
    • Vidiro Gei
      Elemental fingerprinting of the New Caledonian flora
    • Melinda Hilton
      Prediction of long-term salt generation from coal spoils
    • Amelia Hine
      Earthworks - envisioning innovative design solutions for the post mining landscape
    • Eleonore Lebre
      Identifying the critical non-technical and technical pathways for enhancing the uptake of complex materials and manufacturing recycling
    • Yunjia Liu
      Processes of arsenic transformation in copper tailings amended with organic matter and arsenic uptake by native plants
    • Phill McKenna
      Remote sensing tools to measure vegetation response of rehabilitation following fire: implications for long term rehabilitation resilience and mine closure
    • Philip Nti Nkrumah
      Soil amendments to improve biomass and nickel yield in tropical nickel "metal crops" used in phytominin
    • Adrian Paul
      Rhizosphere processes leading to nickel uptake by hyperaccumulator plants: shining light on the soil-root interface
    • Lachlan Robertson
      Rhizosphere adaptation of pioneer plant species to metal mine tailing-soil
    • Felipe Saavedra-Mella
      Rhizosphere mechanisms of native plant species in mine tailings with varying hydrogeochemical stability
    • Pieter Swart
      The development of a standardised process for the quantification of residual environmental risks and the proposed treatment thereof at mine closure and mine lease relinquishment
    • Maria Cristina Vegafria
      The development and implementation of geo-environmental assessment tools for abandoned mines
    • Zhenyu Wang
      Modelling the potential impacts of underground mining on agricultural landscapes


    CMLR PhD research students with submitted theses under examination (and thesis title):

    • Jaclyn Chan
      Soil Organic Matter and Carbon Sequestration in Rehabilitated Mine Soils
    • Roberto Garcia Fragoso
      Natural attenuation strategies for arsenic bearing tailings in extreme wet and dry conditions
    • Ana Ocenar
      Phylogenetic patterns of foliar trace element accumulation in the ultramafic flora (Order Malpighiales) of Sabah, Malaysia

    The CMLR is currently working with and/or partnering on projects or activities with the following companies, universities, government departments, international agencies and research organisations.








    Grant, C., Loch, R.McCaffrey, N., Anstee, S. & Doley, D. (2016) Mine rehabilitation: leading practice sustainable development program for the mining industry. Canberra, ACT, Australia: Commonwealth of Australia.

    Book Chapters

    Doley, D. & Audet, P. (2016) What part of mining are ecosystems? Defining success for the ‘restoration’of highly disturbed landscapes. In Victor R. Squires (Eds.), Ecological restoration: global challenges, social aspects and environmental benefits (pp. 57-88). New York, NY, United States: Nova Science.

    Wijesekara, H., Bolan, N., Vithanage, M., Xu, Y., Mandal, S., Brown, S. et al. (2016) Utilization of biowaste for mine spoil rehabilitation. In (Eds.), Advances in agronomy (pp. 97-173). London, United Kingdom: Academic Press.

    Journal Articles

    Baynes, J., Herbohn, J., Chazdon, R., Nguyen, H., Firn, J., Gregorio, N. et al. (2016) Effects of fragmentation and landscape variation on tree diversity in post-logging regrowth forests of the Southern Philippines. Biodiversity and Conservation, 25(5): 923-941.

    Deng, T., Tang, Y., van der Ent, A., Sterckeman, T., Echevarria, G., Morel, J. et al. (2016) Nickel translocation via the phloem in the hyperaccumulator Noccaea caerulescens (Brassicaceae). Plant and Soil, 404(1-2): 1-11.

    Ellis, W., FitzGibbon, S., Barth, B., Niehaus, A., David, G., Taylor, B. et al. (2016) Daylight saving time can decrease the frequency of wildlife-vehicle collisions. Biology Letters, 12(11).

    Ghodrat, M., Rhamdhani, M., Brooks, G., Masood, S. & Corder, G. (2016) Techno economic analysis of electronic waste processing through black copper smelting route. Journal of Cleaner Production, 126: 178-190.

    Gillespie, N., Bond, C., Downs, V. & Staggs, J. (2016) Stakeholder trust in the Queensland CSG industry. APPEA Journal, 56: 239-245.

    Golev, A. & Corder, G. (2016) Quantifying metal values in e-waste in Australia: the value chain perspective. Minerals Engineering.

    Golev, A., Schmeda-Lopez, D., Smart, S., Corder, G. & McFarland, E. (2016) Where next on e-waste in Australia? Waste Management, 58: 348-358.

    Huang, J., Appiah-Sefah, G., Nkrumah, N. & Li, J. (2016) Magnolia grandiflora for monitoring trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene contamination of groundwater. Fresenius Environmental Bulletin, 25(3): 783-792.

    Jiang, S., Nguyen, T., Rudolph, V., Yang, H., Zhang, D., Ok, Y. et al. (2016) Characterization of hard- and softwood biochars pyrolyzed at high temperature. Environmental Geochemistry and Health: 1-13.

    Lange, B., van der Ent, A., Baker, A., Echevarria, G., Mahy, G., Malaisse, F. et al. (2016) Copper and cobalt accumulation in plants: a critical assessment of the current state of knowledge. New Phytologist, 213(2): 537-551.

    Lebre, É., Corder, G. & Golev, A. (2016) Sustainable practices in the management of mining waste: a focus on the mineral resource. Minerals Engineering.

    Lechner, A., McCaffrey, N., McKenna, P., Venables, W. & Hunter, J. (2016) Ecoregionalization classification of wetlands based on a cluster analysis of environmental data. Applied Vegetation Science, 19(4): 724-735.

    Li, P., Du, Y.Huang, L., Mitter, N. & Xu, Z. (2016) Nanotechnology promotes the R&D of newgeneration micronutrient foliar fertilizers. RSC Advances, 6(73): 69465-69478.

    Nkrumah, P., Baker, A., Chaney, R., Erskine, P., Echevarria, G., Morel, J. et al. (2016) Current status and challenges in developing nickel phytomining: an agronomic perspective. Plant and Soil, 406(1-2): 55-69.

    Opitz, J., Edraki, M. & Baumgartl, T. (2016) The effect of particle size and mineral liberation on the acid generating potential of sulphidic waste rock. Geochemistry: Exploration, Environment, Analysis, 16(3-4): 245-252.

    Santini, T. & Banning, N. (2016) Alkaline tailings as novel soil forming substrates: reframing perspectives on mining and refining wastes. Hydrometallurgy, 164: 38-47.

    Shao, Q. & Baumgartl, T. (2016) Field evaluation of three modified infiltration models for the simulation of rainfall sequences. Soil Science, 181(2): 45-56.

    Sugau, J. & van der Ent, A. (2016) Pittosporum peridoticola (Pittosporaceae), a new ultramafic obligate species restricted to Kinabalu Park (Sabah, Malaysia). Botanical Studies, 57: 4.1-4.7.

    Tinggi, U., Sadler, R., Ng, J. Noller, B. & Seawright, A. (2016) Bioavailability study of arsenic and mercury in traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) using an animal model after a single dose exposure. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 76: 51-56.

    van der Ent, A., Echevarria, G. & Tibbett, M. (2016) Delimiting soil chemistry thresholds for nickel hyperaccumulator plants in Sabah (Malaysia). Chemoecology, 26(2): 1-16.

    van der Ent, A. & Edraki, M. (2016) Environmental geochemistry of the abandoned Mamut Copper Mine (Sabah) Malaysia. Environmental Geochemistry and Health: 1-19.

    van der Ent, A. & Lambers, H. (2016) Plant-soil interactions in global biodiversity hotspots. Plant and Soil: international journal on plant-soil relationships, 403(1-2): 1-5.

    van der Ent, A., van Balgooy, M. & van Welzen, P. (2016) Actephila alanbakeri (Phyllanthaceae): a new nickel hyperaccumulating plant species from localised ultramafic outcrops in Sabah (Malaysia). Botanical Studies, 57(6): 1-8.

    Wang, P., Liu, Y., Menzies, N., Wehr, J., de Jonge, M., Howard, D. et al. (2016) Ferric minerals and organic matter change arsenic speciation in copper mine tailings. Environmental Pollution, 218: 835-843.

    You, F., Dalal, R. & Huang, L. (2016) Biochemical properties of highly mineralised and infertile soil modified by acacia and spinifex plants in northwest Queensland, Australia. Soil Research, 54(3): 265-275.

    Yuan, M., Xu, Z., Baumgartl, T. & Huang, L. (2016) Organic amendment and plant growth improved aggregation in Cu/Pb-Zn tailings. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 80(1): 27-37.