Growing global population coupled with exceptional resource consumption in emerging economies has increased demand for mineral resources to previously unknown levels. Concern about the security of supply of some metals is particularly acute because substitutes do not exist and recycling rates for key elements like gallium, indium, tantalum and rare earth elements are currently less than one percent. Rapid advances in science are needed to understand how strategic minerals are mobilised and concentrated in the crust; to embrace cross-disciplinary science (eg geomicrobiology) to deliver advances in process-understanding; to develop models to predict the environmental impact of scaling up new technologies for low-carbon mineral extraction; and to evaluate the implications of exploiting deep, more dispersed or more inaccessible minerals in the future. Sustainable development of mineral resources – especially understanding how the extraction of minerals impacts on the environment – is also a key concern. The NGEL laboratories undertake a wide range of research in support of mineral security and sustainability.
Exploration of brines and their host aquifers as economic sources of lithium.