Development Minerals

Development Minerals refer to minerals and materials that are mined, processed, manufactured and used domestically. They are crucial inputs for infrastructure, housing, road building, manufacturing and agriculture and support the livelihoods of millions of people working in domestic artisanal, small and medium sized businesses.

The Development Minerals Strategic Program undertakes research, education, technical assistance and capacity building on the local materials most important for local development.

These minerals, known as ‘Development Minerals,’ are economically important to the local economy and have a more direct impact on poverty reduction. The Program aims to bring evidence to policy makers, innovation to partners and new tools to realise sustainable development through the use of local minerals and materials.

The Development Minerals Program is dedicated to working collaboratively with a wide range of international development partners to improve sustainability and human development outcomes from Development Minerals, and to help realise the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly at the local level where minerals and materials are mined, processed, manufactured, and used. This work is enhanced through collaboration across the Sustainable Minerals Institute’s Centres and Programs and The University of Queensland (UQ).

The Program works on a wide range of issues related to sustainable development.

  • Enabling livelihoods
  • Urbanisation and infrastructure
  • Sustainable materials and resource efficiency
  • Reconstruction, peace, and security
  • Green industrialisation and agriculture

Program Leader

Professor Daniel Franks

Deputy Director – Research
Sustainable Minerals Institute
Program Leader
Development Minerals

The Program aims to reduce poverty, improve livelihoods, and enhance sustainable development through a diverse range of activities, including:

  • Research
  • Education
  • Capacity building / technical assistance
  • Policy advice and advocacy
  • Networking
  • Program delivery
  • Communication

The Development Minerals Program has an inter-disciplinary group of social and environmental scientists, geologists, economists, and engineers with hands-on development experience, particularly in the Global South.

The Program team has real world experience as international development professionals for institutions such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), academic researchers and lecturers, and as consultants for bilateral and multilateral donors, industry, and government. The team has worked across 54 countries, covering 13 regions of the world, including in the Americas, Africa, South and Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and Oceania.

Partners and projects

The Development Minerals research team is working with a number of organisations on a range of initiatives:

  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): Developing the ‘Stone for Development Work Integrated Learning course’, in partnership with UNESCO, to provide training and placements for students from UQ and the Pacific region and advance their practical knowledge of sustainable development.
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): Publication of a UNEP and UQ report ‘Mineral Resource Governance and the Global Goals,’ from our work as UNEP’s technical partner on the implementation of the UN Environment Assembly Resolution on Mineral Resource Governance. This report supported a new resolution agreed at the UN Environment Assembly held in February 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya. We also contributed to the new UNEP report ‘Sand and sustainability: 10 Strategic Recommendations to Avert a Crisis’ through our work on sand sustainability, for which we were acknowledged as co-authors.
  • UQ: Collaborating with UQ Global Engagement and Entrepreneurship and the UQ Faculty of Science, under the auspices of the QUEX Initiative, to develop a new Masters of Global Environmental Futures.
  • World Bank: Ongoing delivery of our Delve Exchange knowledge network of artisanal and small-scale mining associations with the World Bank. The network now has over 700 active members in 6 regional exchange groups.
  • Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): Our work with ASEAN has influenced their Minerals Cooperation Action Plan 2021–2025. The plan was based on our report ‘Development Prospects of ASEAN Minerals Cooperation’ and as such the plan acknowledged our contribution.
  • UQ Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, TARA, The Pacific Community, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Fiji Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources: Introducing low carbon cement to the Pacific. Our work has received the support of Hon. Jone Usamate, Fiji Minister of Lands and Resources. Fiji plans to launch this major initiative at the COP 27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in November 2022.


A circular economy solution to reduce mineral wastes and improve global sand sustainability
The DELVE Exchange project addressing the role of artisanal and small-scale mining networks
Project for the Low-Carbon Cement Adoption in the Pacific Region – Limestone Calcined Clay Cement (LC3)
The UQ Stone for Development Work Integrated Learning program for students.
UNESCO-IGCP: Stone for Development Work Integrated Learning and Action Research Program for International students
Partnering with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to implement the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) resolution 4/19 on Mineral Resource Governance.