Established formally in 2001, the Sustainable Minerals Institute has its foundation beginning in 1950.


Mining and Metallurgical Engineering commenced at The University of Queensland (UQ) in 1950 with two unique features:

  • a close association with the industry, initially in Queensland, and progressively throughout Australia and internationally, and
  • a strong focus on research and particularly on postgraduate research.

These features led to the establishment of the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre in 1970. The JKMRC grew over its first 20 years to become an internationally-recognised mineral and mining research and postgraduate training Centre.

The JKMRC approach to industry funding, postgraduate training and the effective transfer of research outcomes to the industry became the blueprint for the establishment of three new specialist research Centres through the 1990s:

As 2000 approached, the stage was set to expand minerals-related research within UQ. 

Establishment of the Sustainable Minerals Institute

A new wave of thinking swept through the international minerals industry in the late 1990’s, centred on the concept of Sustainable Development. In early 2000, over 20 international mining companies and other commercial and non-commercial sponsors, working through the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, commissioned the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development Project. The project aimed to examine the role of the minerals sector in contributing to Sustainable Development. 

SMI Timeline

A proposal was developed within UQ during 1999 and early 2000 for submission to the Queensland State Government. This proposal's aim was to expand the existing minerals-related research capacity within UQ through new activities which would address the wider social and sustainability challenges facing the international industry. To a reasonable degree, the proposal anticipated some of the outcomes of the MMSD Project. 

In mid 2000, the Queensland State Government announced support for the proposal through an award of $10million. As a result, the Sustainable Minerals Institute was established in early 2001. At the outset, SMI consisted of four Centres: 

This was expanded to include the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining in 2001, the Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry in 2004.

Today The Sustainable Minerals Institute is a world-leading research institute dedicated to finding knowledge-based solutions to the sustainability challenges of the global minerals industry.

SMI Research Centres

Learn more about SMI's Research