Pathways to production - critical metals

Pathways to production for critical metals – extraction as by-products from operating base metal mines and from mine waste materials

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. Tasmania has substantial critical metal resources (e.g., W, Co, Sn, Ni, Mg) with the potential to contribute significantly to growth in  critical metals inventory. Extraction of critical metals from ores and waste materials can be challenging and pose potential barriers to cost-effective recovery that need to be addressed. These include potential issues with crushing and grinding, separation of critical metals from gangue, and efficient energy use. These issues apply to extraction as by-products from operating metal mines and extraction from legacy waste materials.
This PhD project will optimise methods, and devise new workflows for critical metals processing
as by-products from one or more operating metal mines and/or from one or more legacy mine waste facilities. The focus will be on W, Co, Mg, Ni and/or Sn extraction, depending on the study site. The candidate will:

  • Characterise critical metal distribution through sampling, petrophysical and geochemical analyses
  • Determine critical metal deportment through detailed laboratory analyses (LA-ICP-MS, XRD, SWIR, SEM, etc.)
  • Evaluate and test the feasibility of critical metal extraction
  • Use these research findings to create novel characterisation and testing workflows for evaluating critical metal extraction 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 Julie Hunt


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
  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus
  • 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 geometallurgy, mineral processing, environmental geology or environmental geochemistry, hydrogeology, economic geology, and/or mineralogy
  • 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 Julie Hunt 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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