Energy, Mining and Resources
The international community has committed to a path toward zero-net CO2 emissions by 2050.
It also contains more than enough energy and mineral resources to support a growing, increasingly urbanised population for many centuries to come.
However, new technologies, policies and markets are needed to meet these targets in an economically sustainable way.
Our energy, resources and environment research is developing the technology, policies and markets to help industry transition to carbon neutrality by managing the variable nature of renewable resources, lowering the cost of production and storage of energy and the mitigation of CO2 from the difficult-to-abate sectors.
We are actively helping industry and government meet these targets, particularly in the most difficult sectors of our economy such as heavy industry, agriculture, air transportation and freight.
Our research and its impact on society
Our researchers bring world-leading expertise to address the challenges along the entire value-chain at the nexus between low-carbon energy technology and the mining and resource sector. We are working collaboratively with industry and the international community to develop the solutions needed for Australia to harness its unique combination of outstanding mineral and renewable energy resources to meet the growing global demand for high-value, low-carbon metals and other materials for the new economy. These span the identification of the rare, critical minerals needed in batteries and renewable energy generation, through to the production of green hydrogen and its use in production of iron/steel, alumina/aluminium and cement/lime.
For example, we are:
- developing next-generation solar-thermal technologies in partnership with ARENA, Alcoa and Hatch, with strong potential to contribute to the entire displacement of natural gas in a large-scale industrial process in an economically viable way
- investigating ways to improve production and distribution of future carbon-neutral fuels, such as hydrogen, biogas, methanol and ammonia, through the Future Fuels CRC
- enhancing the economic and environmentally sustainable production of copper from iron oxide-copper-gold-uranium resources through the ARC Research Hub for Australian Copper-Uranium by developing new scalable, cost-effective methods for removing non-target metals from copper concentrates
- building an enhanced baseline picture of the Great Australian Bight’s seafloor geology, in collaboration with the CSIRO and Chevron Australia to inform environmental management and reduce petroleum exploration uncertainties.
Australia is mineral rich and our weather patterns lend themselves to renewable energy production. And yet, our mineral extraction and exports contribute significantly to our carbon emissions as a nation. So how do we decarbonise heavy industry and find better renewable solutions? Hear from Prof Gus Nathan and A/Prof Yan Jiao as they discuss renewable energies.
Heavy industry is vital to our economy but it contributes to the planet’s climate challenge crisis, which is why transitioning the sector to net-zero carbon emissions is so important. Decarbonising heavy industry will be good for the global economy because it is being driven by new markets for higher value new green products. Our researchers have researched and released the essential pathway to transition heavy industry toward net-zero emissions.
Our research capabilities
Our Energy, Mining and Resources research is interdisciplinary and outward facing, with strong links to industry and government across multiple sectors.
Industry and government partners
We are closely involved with:
- ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency), Australia’s peak government organisation on clean energy technology
- METS (Mining Equipment, Technology and Services) Ignited Industry Growth Centre
- NERA (National Energy Resources Australia) Industry Growth Centre
- South Australian Government (Department for Industry and Skills, Department for Energy and Mining, Department for Environment and Water, Renewables SA, SA Water)
- several major national and multinational energy and resources companies, including Santos, Woodside, Chevron and BHP.
Associated research centres and institutes
- Andy Thomas Centre for Space Resources
- ARC Research Hub for Australian Copper-Uranium
- ARC Research Hub for Graphene Enabled Industry Transformation
- ARC Training Centre for Integrated Operations for Complex Resources
- Centre for Energy Technology
- Centre for Materials in Energy and Catalysis
- CRC Optimising Resource Extraction (ORE)
- Energy Pipelines CRC
- Future Fuels CRC
- Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources
- MinEx CRC
Professor Gus Nathan is the research theme leader for Energy, Mining and Resources. He is an ARC Discovery Outstanding Researcher who specialises in thermal energy engineering in systems supplied by solar, geothermal and the combustion of fossil and bio-fuels, but also works with hydrogen, wind and wave power.