Critical metals from legacy mine wastes

Recovery of critical metals from legacy mine waste facilities – new toolboxes and workflows for waste characterisation and critical metal production

Degree type


Closing date

1 July 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International


$31,500pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

Critical metals are vital, scarce resources required for modern technology, infrastructure and the transition to a renewable energy future. In order to address global supply issues, growth in critical metal resources and advances in their extraction technologies are required. One potential pathway to critical metals production involves recovery of critical metal resource streams from areas already impacted by mining, in particular through waste reprocessing from historical and legacy mine waste facilities. Economic recovery of critical metals from mine wastes has the potential to improve environmental sustainability through the responsible use of resources, enhance the value of mining operations and minimise environmental footprints, thereby significantly benefiting regional and rural communities and the environment whilst also growing critical metals inventory.

This PhD project will develop novel methods of characterising and processing critical metals from one or more historic or legacy mine waste facility in Western Tasmania. Primary focus will be on cobalt, ranked 6th on Geoscience Australia's (GA's) list of critical metals, with other critical metals to be considered if present in significant amounts. The candidate will:

  • Characterise critical metal distribution throughout one or more mine waste facilities through field sampling, geophysical and geochemical surveying and characterisation of waste materials (rocks, minerals, waters).
  • Determine critical metal deportment through detailed laboratory analyses (LA-ICP-MS, XRD, SWIR, SEM, etc.).
  • Evaluate the feasibility of critical metal extraction from mine wastes and optimal strategies for environmental management of reprocessed waste.
  • Use these research findings to create novel characterisation and deportment toolboxes and workflows for evaluating critical metal deportment in mine wastes and creating opportunities for critical metal production.

This project will be conducted as part of a new CODES critical metals research initiative. The candidate will work in a multidisciplinary research team and collaborate with a large industry sponsor group.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Clare Miller


The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Honours or Masters degree with a substantial geological, geochemical and/or hydrogeological component, or equivalent
  • Proficiency in written and oral English is required

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • A strong background in economic geology, mineralogy, geochemistry and/or geometallurgy
  • Successful completion of BSc level undergraduate subjects in chemistry, maths and/or physics
  • Demonstrated experience in using micro-analytical techniques in research projects
  • Previous publications in international peer-reviewed literature and/or conference presentations

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Dr Clare Miller to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 1 July 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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