David specialises in bringing together the multiple disciplines of environmental science to address the rehabilitation of lands disturbed by mining and mineral processing activities.

David has a disciplinary background in plant physiology and ecology and contributes extensively to projects and policy discussions relating to the creation and assessment of post-mining landscapes, ecosystems and end-uses. He has taken a prominent role in the development of robust monitoring technologies and closure criteria to ensure that areas potentially challenged by mining impacts have greater certainty about the protection of, and minimisation of future risks to, environmental and social values.

After graduating with a PhD from the University of Newcastle and postdoctoral studies at the Forestry School at the University of Melbourne, David joined the Department of Agriculture at UQ in 1990. He was working in the minesite rehabilitation group in that Department at the time the Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation (CMLR) was established, and became its Director in 1999. In 2015, he became the Director of Environment Centres in the SMI, encompassing CMLR and the Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry (CWiMI). In June 2017, he was further appointed to the role of Director of the SMI’s International Centre of Excellence in Chile (SMI-ICE-Chile). This Centre, with an office in Santiago, is co-funded by the Chilean government.

In 1998 he was the recipient of the Australian Minerals and Energy Foundation Excellence Award for “Outstanding Leadership in Mine Site Rehabilitation Research and Education” and in 2011 received a “Q-Index Award” for being among the top 10 of The University of Queensland’s researchers in regards to external grant income.

He chairs and co-chairs international conferences each year and was chair of the Bowen-Abbot Point Community Consultation Group (2008-2011). He is a former Board Member of Greening Australia Queensland and is currently an Advisory Councillor to Greening Australia. He is a Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and a Life-Member of the American Society for Mining and Reclamation.

Industry Engagement

David has had involvement as a Chief Investigator at various levels with more than 100 research projects and grants that have been completed or are ongoing, both across Australia and overseas. Major sponsors of such research activities have included BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), Rio Tinto Coal Australia, Rio Tinto Alcan, Placer Dome (now Barrick Gold), Sibelco Australia, Newmont Asia Pacific, Xstrata (now Glencore) Copper/Coal/Zinc, MMG, Wesfarmers Curragh, Centennial Coal, Beach Energy, Incitec Pivot, the Australian Coal Association, Australian Research Council, and numerous others. He has led projects across a wide spectrum of commodities, mine life-cycle phases, climates and ecosystems.

He has been engaged with industry and governments internationally through projects funded by various Australian AID programs, the Council on Australia Latin America Relations, the Australia-Korea Foundation, UNEP and the Asia Foundation. He has had engagement with the Beijing General Research Institute for Mining and Metallurgy (BGRIMM) for more than 20 years, and developed a formal relationship for UQ with the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources through its Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Centre. He initiated a UQ-level relationship with the Mine Reclamation Corporation in Korea (MIRECO) and more recently organised the signing of an agreement with the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM).


David has or has had joint projects and RHD co-advisory roles with UQ Schools in the Faculties of Business, Economics and Law; Engineering, Architecture & Information Technology; Medicine; and Science. He has been directly involved in several collaborative projects with the University of Western Australia over the years and is currently contributing to emerging opportunities with the Tropical Forests and People Research Centre at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Internationally, David has built strong academic collaborations with several universities in the Philippines, and lectures into a Masters program at Universidad Catolica del Norte in Antofagasta, Chile. Through SMI-ICE-Chile, there are especially strong collaborations with the Universidad de Concepcion. He continues to foster academic relationships with a number of Chinese universities and co-supervises a PhD at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

Key Publications

Hooper, M.J., Glomb, S.J., Harper, D.D., Hoelzle, T.B., McIntosh, L.M. and Mulligan, D.R. (2016). Integrated risk and recovery monitoring of ecosystem restorations on contaminated sites. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 12, 284–295.

van der Ent, A., Baker, A.J.M., Reeves, R.D., Chaney, R.L., Anderson, C.W.N., Meech, J.A., Erskine, P.D., Simonnot, M-O, Vaughan, J., Morel, J.L., Echevarria, G., Fogliani, B, Rongliang, Q. and Mulligan, D.R. (2015). Agromining: Farming for Metals in the Future? Environmental Science and Technology, 49, 4773-4780.

Doley, D., Audet, P. and Mulligan, D.R. (2012). Examining the Australian context for post-mined land rehabilitation: Reconciling a paradigm for the development of natural and novel ecosystems among post-disturbance landscapes. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 163, 85-93.

Huang, L., Baumgartl, T. and Mulligan, D.R. (2012). Is rhizosphere remediation sufficient for sustainable revegetation of mine tailings? Annals of Botany, 110, 223-238.

Franks, D.M., Boger, D.V., Côte, C.M. and Mulligan, D.R. (2011). Sustainable development principles for the disposal of mining and mineral processing wastes. Resources Policy, 36, 114-122


In the past 25 years, David has solely or collectively been involved with and/or responsible for project funding valued at over $30M, about 90% of which has been from industry sources, with the balance from government departments, the Australian Research Council and aid agencies, both national and international.