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 Groups, namely Ecosystem Assessment, Restoration and Resilience, Ecological Engineering of Mine Wastes (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

Associate Professor Glen Corder

Program Team

Dr Mansour Edraki
Dr Artem Golev
Dr 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

    Ecological Engineering of Mine Wastes

    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

    Associate Professor Peter Erskine

    Program Team

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


    completion criteria, hyperaccumulators, drones, frameworks species

    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 group

    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 project title):

    Name Project Title
    Farida Abubakari Developing tropical zinc biofortified crops
    Raphael Akesseh Geochemical and hydrological study of mine tailings and capping design strategy for proposed tailing facility system closure
    Tamar Cohen Re-imagining mined land: relating cultural and ecological criteria for the successful rehabilitation of mined land
    Bevan Roy 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
    Allen Yunjia Liu Processes of arsenic (As) transformation in copper tailings amended with organic matter and As uptake by native plants
    Adrian Paul Rhizosphere processes leading to nickel uptake by hyperaccumulator plants: shining light on the soil-root interface
    Gabriel Perez Murillo Modelling transport and transformation of mine tailings
    Lachlan Robertson Rhizosphere adaptation of pioneer plant species to metal mine tailing-soil
    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.
    Roger Tang Using Zinc-Lead-Copper Metallophytes for Biogeochemical Prospecting and Mine Site Rehabilitation
    Maria Cristina Vegafria The development and implementation of geo-environmental assessment tools for abandoned mines
    Qing Yi Microbial driven transformation of ferrous minerals in magnetite tailings for soil formation

    CMLR PhD research students with submitted theses under examination

    • Stuart Irvine-Brown – 17 May 2018
    • Felipe Saavedra-Mella - 13 April 2018
    • Philip Nti Nkrumah - 5 April 2018

    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.