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 group 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; understand and create enhanced value from mining waste (waste rock, overburden and tailings) and recovery of metals from end-of-life products.


Projects within this Group

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 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 minimise 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

Group Leader

Associate Professor Glen Corder


Dr Mansour Edraki
Dr Artem Golev
Dr Barry Noller


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

    Ecosystem Assessment, Restoration and Resilience

    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

    This group currently focuses on two key areas: the discovery and utility of metallophyte plants; and, the recovery and sustainability of disturbed land. The group 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 Group

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

    Wildlife Dispersal Modelling for Road Mitigation Purposes (Kenya)

    Identification of wildlife crossing locations to mitigate the effects of a proposed expresswayGiraffe - Kenya

    The Kenya project work assesses the environmental impacts of anthropogenic activities and disturbance on ecosystems, particularly in the context of new infrastructure rather than mining. We are modelling the movements of a suit of mammal species to understand the effects that a proposed Expressway will have on wildlife across a large area of Kenya.

    This modelling will be used to the propose mitigation strategies and assess the most appropriate locations for the placement of wildlife crossings. 

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

    Hyperaccumulators are unusual plants that accumulate particular metals or metalloids in their living tissues to levels that may be orders of magnitude greater than is normal for most plants growing on similar soils. Discovering hyperaccumulators and understanding their agronomy could lead to identifying potential species to be utilized in novel phytotechnologies such as phytomining for phytoextraction of valuable metals.

    Currently, there are approximately 450 documented Ni hyperaccumulators worldwide. The majority of the nickel hyperaccumulators have been recorded in Cuba (130), Southern Europe and Minor Asia (80–90), and Malaysia (24). In New Caledonia there are 65 documented Ni hyperaccumulators. One of the most unusual is the tree Pycnandra acuminata, endemic to New Caledonia, which has a latex that contains up to 25.7 Wt% nickel colouring it blue-green from nickel ions.

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

    The current research has been undertaken as part of Vidiro Gei’s PhD project. Her study aimed to spatially resolve the elemental distribution in five different New Caledonian nickel hyperaccumulator plant species using synchrotron-based micro-X-ray Fluorescence imaging. The experiments were undertaken at X-ray fluorescence beamline (P06) of PETRA III (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron; DESY) in Hamburg, Germany with collaborators from New Caledonia and France.

    Read more in the BBC news story "The tree that bleeds... metal?"  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45398434

    Project members: Dr Antony van der Ent, Associate Professor Peter ErskineVidiro Gei

    Testing the Resilience of Mine Site Rehabilitation

    How do engineered landscapes respond to fire? This project aims to test established rehabilitation by applying fire and measuring the vegetation and landform response in the 2 years following the burn.  The project is using high spatial and temporal spectral imagery captured by drone along with ground surveys to assess fire severity and recovery, and determine the long-term impacts on lease relinquishment for a number of sites in Queensland and New South Wales. Fires have been conducted at Curragh Mine, Glencore Newlands Mine (night burn photos) and Ensham Mine.

    Testing the Resilience of Mine Site Rehabilitation

    Fire 1

    Application of X-ray fluorescence technology on herbarium collections

    Growth trials using nickel hyperaccumulator plants in Sabah, Malaysia

    Group Leader

    Associate Professor Peter Erskine


    Dr Antony van der Ent

    Dr Lorna Hernandez Santin

    Dr Philip Nti Nkrumah

    Phill McKenna

    Vanessa Glenn

    Vinod Nath

    Natasha Ufer


    completion criteria, hyperaccumulators, drones, frameworks species


    Ecological Engineering of Mine Wastes

    discovery of new knowledge and technologies relating to ecological engineeringThis group 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

    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

    Group Leader

    Associate Professor Longbin Huang


    Dr Songlin Wu

    Dr Yaling Zhang

    Saha Narottam

    Dr Fang You

    Dr Tuan Nguyen

    HDR Students

    Allen Yunjia Liu

    Lachlan Robertson

    Qing Yi

    Sicheng Wang

    Yifang Zeng


    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


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

      Our Current HDR Students are:

      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
      Mohammad Boshrouyeh Ghandashtani Polymer amended tailings stability for optimum rehabilitation outcome
      Tamar Cohen Re-imagining mined land: relating cultural and ecological criteria for the successful rehabilitation of mined land
      Amelia Corzo Remigio

      Management of Mine Waste through Geochemistry and Phytoremediation 

      Bevan Roy Emmerton Bowen Basin Coal Mine spoil classification for improved mine rehabilitation outcomes
      Vidiro Gei Elemental fingerprinting of the New Caledonian flora
      Zhengdong Han Australian Red Mud Dewatering and Reuse In Wastewater Treatment
      Maggie-Anne Harvey Development of selenium agromining in Queensland, Australia
      Melinda Hilton Prediction of long-term salt generation from coal spoils
      Amelia Hine Earthworks - envisioning innovative design solutions for the post mining landscape
      Karan Jian Salt crusting and its impact on water flow
      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
      Sicheng Wang Microbial community dynamics during remediation of bauxite residue
      Qing Yi Microbial driven transformation of ferrous minerals in magnetite tailings for soil formation
      Yifang Zeng Physiological responses of alkaline and saline tolerant plant species in eco-engineered seawater-neutralized Bauxite residues

      CMLR PhD research students with submitted theses under examination

      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.