Mining Life Cycle

How can the mining industry create new economic value, target reduced footprints and significantly diminish liability from mining waste?

Program Leader

Anna Littleboy

Professor Anna Littleboy

Program Leader
Mine Lifecycles

The mining life cycle starts at exploration and ends at closure, but impacts from mining can last in perpetuity. Mining waste – that is waste rock from mining and tailings from mineral processing – are the source of the biggest impacts from mining. In Australia alone, the generation of mine waste is about 6 to 7 billion tonnes per year. To put these figures into context, current worldwide cement production is about 3.5 billion tonnes per year. 

This cross-cutting program will adopt a transformational perspective to mining waste along the mine life cycle.   It will apply a multi-disciplinary, innovative, and integrative approach to develop feasible pathways, create new value chains and accelerate legal, economic and technical solutions to realise substantial value from mineral waste for the overall benefit to society – namely industry, governments, communities and the environment. Key questions include:

  • What are the local, regional and global societal dimensions related to managing mining waste?
  • What are the spatial and temporal geo-environmental impacts resulting from mining waste and how can potential liabilities be prevented or substantially mitigated?
  • Which geo-metallurgical properties can unlock additional value and enhance environmental outcomes in waste from mining and mineral processing?
  • How can the mining industry contribute, assess and quantify their contribution to the emerging circular economy?