The Sustainable Minerals Institute was established in 2001 by the Queensland State Government, The University of Queensland (UQ) and industry to be an industry-facing, engaged research and education provider.

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 (MMSD). The Project aimed to examine the role of the minerals sector in contributing to sustainable development. 

Anticipating some of the outcomes of the MMSD Project, UQ developed a proposal for submission to the Queensland State Government to expand the existing minerals-related research capacity and address the wider social and sustainability challenges facing the global resource industry.

In mid-2000, the Queensland State Government announced support for the proposal through an award of $10million and the Sustainable Minerals Institute was established.

It brought together the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC), WH Bryan Mining Geology Research Centre (BRC), the Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation (CMLR), the Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre (MISHC) and the newly formed Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM) in 2001.

The Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry (CWiMI) was established within the Institute in 2004, and the International Centre of Excellence in Chile (SMI-ICE-Chile) in 2014.

SMI Timeline
Timeline abstract of SMI's establishment