Our people

We are assembling leading experts in critical minerals assessment research, and will soon be seeking to expand the consortium to include industry advisers.

Special Advisers

Stephen McIntosh
Stephen McIntosh
Non Executive Director,
Chalice Mining Limited

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Stephen McIntosh retired from Rio Tinto at the end of 2020 after more than 33 years with the group. He commenced his career as an exploration geologist/geophysicist in Papua New Guinea and he completed his career as Group Executive for Growth and Innovation. In his final role he had the direct accountability for staff and contractors in more than 30 countries covering most of Rio Tinto’s global technical functions including exploration, studies, construction, technical services, Information Technology, data science, robotics & automation, R&D, asset closure and for the last year he also led the global health, safety, environment, and security function.

Stephen has broad experience covering the A-Z of minerals and metals across a diverse range of projects in more than 45 countries. During his time with Rio Tinto’s exploration group, he led the in-house teams that supported the companies view on supply side industry dynamics. Stephen was accountable for Rio Tinto’s in-house technical and R&D experts including mineral processing. He was also active in his engagement on the potential production of key co-products from existing operations and from closure projects including for critical minerals. He has actively engaged with several governments reviewing their approach to critical minerals exploration, evaluation and supply.

Robin Batterham
Prof Robin Batterham AO
Kernot Professor Of Engineering,
The University of Melbourne

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As special adviser, Professor Batterham brings to the consortium a wealth of leadership experience and creativity, built on a career ranging across industry, academia and government. Professor Batterham joined the Melbourne School of Engineering as Kernot Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in 2010. He has wide interests including reducing emissions through soil sequestration, application of mesoscience to mining, dewatering of tailings and elimination of tailings through in place leaching. He is past President of the Academy of Technology and Engineering (2007-2012), former Chief Scientist of Australia (1999-2005) and for over 20 years Global Head of Innovation (and other positions) in Rio Tinto. He has twice chaired the International Mineral Processing Congress, Chairs the selection panels for both the Australia India Strategic Research Fund and the Australia China Strategic Research Fund and chaired the International Energy Agency Expert Group on Science for Energy.


Founders

David Whittle
Dr David Whittle
Resources Engineering,
Department of Civil Engineering,
Monash University

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Dr Whittle is a minerals industry consultant with extensive experience in strategic mine planning. With close to 30 years industry and research experience, David has recently joined Monash University to conduct critical minerals assessment research.

Mohan Yellishetty
A/Prof Mohan Yellishetty
Resources Engineering,
Department of Civil Engineering,
Monash University

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Associate Professor Yellishetty is an experienced researcher and altruistic academic. His research and academic work experience at Monash University and CSIRO, Australia, Yale University, USA and IIT Bombay, India have provided him with the opportunity to undertake high quality research work and to contribute significantly to mining engineering discipline and publish widely in reputed high impact journals.

He has been recognized as one of the leading experts in sustainable mineral resources. His disciplined research focuses around the following areas:

  • Mine rehabilitation and closure
  • Sustainability frameworks/tools and their application to mining industry
  • Industrial ecology, life cycle thinking, substance flow and material flow analysis
  • Critical and strategic mineral supply chains and assessment
  • Resources and environmental geotechnical engineering
Gavin Mudd
A/Prof Gavin Mudd
Environmental Engineering,
School of Engineering,
RMIT University

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Associate Professor Mudd is a leading expert in sustainable mining, critical mineral assessment, environmental impacts, risk management, uranium mining, water management and impacts in mining, copper, cobalt, nickel, platinum group metals, lithium, rare earth elements, bauxite-I alumina-aluminium, groundwater impacts, groundwater and unsaturated flow processes.

Stuart Walsh
Dr Stuart Walsh
Resources Engineering,
Department of Civil Engineering,
Monash University

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Dr Walsh is a leading expert in numerical modelling for economic fairways analysis: integrated assessments of economic viability to identify areas permissive for mineral development. He is the founding developer of the ‘Bluecap’ model, a part of Geoscience Australia’s Exploring for the Future (EFTF) program.


Team

Anita Parbhakar-Fox
A/Prof Anita Parbhakar-Fox
WH Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre
Queensland University

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Anita, an Environmental Geologist, is the Leader of the new Mine Waste Transformation through Characterisation (MiWaTCH) Group at the Sustainable Minerals Institute. Anita's team are focussed on researching the geoenvironmental properties of mine waste and associated secondary prospectivity opportunities to improve mine planning and waste management practices.

Anita works directly with mining industry, METS sector and government stakeholders. Most recently, Anita has led industry and government funded projects characterising a range of mine waste materials to evaluate their economic potential. Her current focus is on evaluating critical metal recovery potential from mine waste- vital to supplement the global transition towards a low carbon future and to meet our national circular economy goals.

Vanessa Wong
A/Prof Vanessa Wong
School of Earth Atmosphere & Environment,
Monash University

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Associate Professor Wong is a leading expert in soil-surface, water-shallow groundwater processes ranging from the micron scale to the landscape scale in landscape function. She seeks to understand how these biogeochemical processes occur in a range of environments. This has allowed her to work closely with industry and government organisations (local, state and federal)

Joel Brugger
Prof Joel Brugger
School of Earth Atmosphere and Environment,
Monash University

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Professor Brugger obtained his PhD at the University of Basel, Switzerland in 1996, for his work on the geochemistry and mineralogy of metamorphosed syn-genetic exhalative Mn deposits. In 2002 he joined the South Australian Museum and the University of Adelaide, and established the Minerals, Microbes and Solutions research group, dedicated to using state-of-the-art experimental techniques to study the transport and deposition of metals and mineral-microbe-fluid interaction in geological environments. In January 2014, Professor Brugger commenced as chair of Synchrotron Geosciences at Monash University.

Rahul Ram
Dr Rahul Ram
School of Earth Atmosphere & Environment,
Monash University

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Dr Ram has extensive experience in hydrometallurgy, geo-metallurgy, geochemistry and thermodynamic modelling. He has previously worked at Rio Tinto T&I as a Process Advisor and at the University of Cape Town as a visiting URC fellow. His primary expertise is in the design and development of technologies across the processing circuit supported by fundamental expertise in mineral processing. His research on process optimisation and downstream remediation include uranium and its daughter radionuclides, base metals, rare earth elements, and precious metals, and heavy metal removal/transport, and has been a key member of several industry-led ARC linkages with BHP, Rio Tinto and Newcrest.

Andrew Tomkins
A/Prof Andy Tomkins
School of Earth Atmosphere & Environment,
Monash University

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Associate Professor Andy Tomkins is an ARC Future Fellow specialising in economic geology. He is the 2021 winner of the Society of Economic Geologists Silver Medal for excellence in mid career research. A/Prof Tomkins primarily uses the principles of geochemistry and petrology to investigate the processes that lead to formation of mineral deposits. He has developed new mineral deposit formation models for several types of ore deposits. In terms of critical metal research, he is focusing on how crustal-scale orogenic fluid systems lead to formation of cobalt-copper deposits, gold-silver-antimony deposits and uranium-rare earth element deposits, and how magmatic processes in volcanic arcs lead to formation of nickel-copper-cobalt-platinum group element deposits in the deep crust and copper-gold-molybdenum-silver-tellurium deposits in the upper crust.

Mita Bhattacharya
Dr Mita Bhattacharya
Department of Economics,
Monash Business School,
Monash University

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Mita's major research areas are in Energy Economics, Sustainability, Applied Industrial Organisation. In her research, she has analysed industrial performance, competitiveness of different sectors including energy resources in a dynamic setting. Her research has meaningful policy prescriptions for these sectors with a focus on Asia-Pacific region. Mita has published widely in peer-reviewed journals including in Energy Economics, International Journal of Industrial Organisation, International Journal of Production Economics, World Economy, Review of Industrial Organisation and in Applied Energy. She has held visiting positions in the Australian National University, Curtin University, Doshisha University (Japan), University of East Anglia (U.K.) and in the OECD (Head Office, France). Mita has received external grants from the Australian Research Council, Tyre Australia and National Science Council (Taiwan). Mita is the recipient of the annual award in 2017 from the Applied Energy Society for her research on renewable energy sources.

Mahdokht Shaibani
Dr Mahdokht Shaibani
Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering,
Monash University

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Dr Shaibani is an energy storage researcher, inventor, and solution provider. She has expertise in materials synthesis, engineering, and scale-up for next-generation energy storage systems, including lithium metal batteries, lithium-ion batteries, flow batteries, supercapacitors, and lithium-ion capacitors. Mhdokht has conducted pioneering research in developing practical graphene-based protection technologies and expansion-tolerant architectures for stabilizing lithium-sulfur batteries. She explores the applications of Li-S batteries and Graphene supercapacitors in transportation, grid storage, and wireless sensor networks. Mahdokht has a passion for writing and communicating stories of a scientific nature and has authored several opinion and analysis pieces on critical energy-related topics suitably simplified for raising the awareness in general public. Mahdokht has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, with a focus on energy storage from Monash University, Australia.

Bhuvana Shanbhagg
Dr Bhuvana Shanbhag
ARC-Research Hub for Medicinal Agriculture,
Latrobe University

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Bhuvana Shanbhag completed her PhD in Chemical engineering at Monash University where she focused on developing enzymes with self-assembly feature for industrial application. Her research expertise includes protein self-assembly, enzymology, recombinant protein production using bacteria and yeast, bioprocess development and downstream processing of biomolecules. Prior to her PhD, she has 5 years of industrial experience as a Senior Scientist at Biocon Research Ltd., Bangalore India in the development of downstream process for Anti-diabetic drugs.

She was a post-doctoral fellow at the ARC Hub for Energy Efficient Separations for two years and developed a process for the separation of bioactive molecules. Currently she is a Research Associate at the ARC Hub for Medicinal Agriculture at Latrobe University where she is currently characterizing enzymes from medicinal plants for producing plant-derived compounds. Her research interests include advanced biocatalyst development, microbial biotransformation and waste valorisation using microbial and enzymatic approaches.

Prof Edward Buckingham
Monash Business School,
Monash University

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A pracademic and a strategy consultant by training, Professor Buckingham works for Monash Business school where he teaches MBA and EMBA courses on Strategy, Business Model Design and Operations Management. Edward began his career with the Boston Consulting Group in Shanghai, managed manufacturing businesses in France and advised Oil and Gas companies internationally for Schlumberger before embarking on his academic career. His PhD from the University of London (SOAS) examined resource transfers between the formal and informal sectors in Indonesia.

As an undergraduate Edward completed projects on tailings dams and lithium alloys. He continues to take an active interest in the resources sector and has contributed at AusIMM, IMARC, Austrade India events and Industry-academic gatherings such as HiTemp.

Saman Ilankoon
Dr Saman Ilankoon
Department of Chemical Engineering,
Monash University Malaysia campus

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Dr Ilankoon has extensive mining, minerals processing, chemical process engineering, and industrial rock blasting teaching and research experiences at Imperial College London, Monash University Malaysia campus (Department of Chemical Engineering) and University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka (Department of Earth Resources Engineering). Most of his research focuses on processing of low grade ores, improving the efficiency of metal extraction systems, porous media flow studies, waste management (electronic waste or e-waste) and sustainability aspects of minerals processing. His work provides a useful link between minerals engineering, waste management and unsaturated fluid flow in mineral extraction systems encouraging research collaborations.

Sankar Bhattacharya
Prof Sankar Bhattacharya
Department of Chemical Engineering
Monash University

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Professor Bhattacharya has a strong background in industry and academia over thirty years. Having started his career in India as a design and commissioning engineer for power stations, he then worked in Thailand on the utilisation of agro-forestry residues for gaseous fuels production. Following his PhD in Australia, Professor Bhattacharya worked as a Principal Research Engineer with Lignite CRC on large scale gasification and combustion, and then as a Principal Process Engineer with Anglo Coal Australia before moving to France with the International Energy Agency in Paris to lead their Cleaner Fossil Fuels program. Professor Bhattacharya's current work, among others, include processing of wastes - plastics, tyres, eWaste, flyash and waste biomass for the production of liquid fuels and chemicals, and extraction of critical metals with reduced environmental impact.

Warren Bruckard
Mr Warren Bruckard
CSIRO Mineral Resources

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The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Group Leader, Process Engineering & Chemistry.

Mark Pownceby
Dr Mark Pownceby
Solid State Chemistry & Mineralogy,
Team Leader Iron Ore Geometallurgy,
CSIRO Mineral Resources

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Since joining CSIRO Dr Pownceby has worked primarily in the Industrial Minerals Sector. He is responsible for conducting fundamental research to examine the influence of impurity elements and gangue minerals on ilmenite processing. His work resulted in the development of electron microprobe-based technique for characterising heavy mineral sand concentrates. He has successfully applied this technique in the characterisation of ilmenite deposits from the Murray Basin, the Eucla Basin and Southern Africa.

Mark is also a member of the Iron Ore Processing Program where his major activities involve designing and completing an experimental program aimed at understanding the complex mineral assemblages formed during the sintering of Australian iron ores. He is also part of a Minerals Down Under Flagship project which is investigating the deportment of the impurities phosphorus, aluminium and silicon in Australian iron ores. Mark has previously led projects within CSIRO’s Light Metals Flagship to determine fundamental phase relations in solid-liquid systems designed to produce anhydrous magnesium chloride feedstock for the Australian Magnesium (AM) process.

Mark’s research expertise is in the field of solid state chemistry and mineralogy. He applies this expertise in research projects related to:

  • ilmenite characterisation and processing,
  • the characterisation of bulk iron ores and their sintered products,
  • the mineralogy of uranium ores, and
  • experimental phase equilibria.
Tim Werner
Dr Tim Werner
School of Geography,
Faculty of Science,
The University of Melbourne

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Dr Werner is a Research Fellow in GIS and Extractive Industries at the University of Melbourne School of Geography. With a background in environmental engineering and geographical science, Dr Werner's research employs mixed methods from economic geology, industrial ecology, GIS and remote sensing to analyse various aspects of mining and metal supply chains. His PhD research focused on the global resources, production, waste and recycling potential of critical metals, where he developed world-leading research on indium, and established new methods for critical mineral resource accounting that are now employed for Geoscience Australia.

He has authored a number of prominent studies on global critical metal resources, production, supply potential and recycling and serves on the editorial board of the AusIMM Applied Earth Science journal. He has successfully completed critical metal research projects for the International Copper, Lead, Zinc and Nickel Study Groups, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Geoscience Australia and the Columbia Water Center. His current research focuses on the land use implications of future critical metal mining.

Andrés Muñoz-Acosta
Dr Andrés Muñoz-Acosta
School of Mathematics and Statistics,
Faculty of Science,
The University of Melbourne

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Dr Muñoz-Acosta has Electronics degrees at Universidad del Valle, Colombia in 2005 and 2008 respectively and a Ph.D. from The University of Melbourne (2014). From 2013 to 2017, he was a Research Fellow (Level A) at the School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University, Australia. Currently, he is a Research Fellow (Level B) at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, The University of Melbourne. Australia.

Sunil Aryal
Dr Sunil Aryal
School of Info Technology,
Faculty of Sci Eng & Built Env,
Deakin University

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Dr Sunil Aryal is a lecturer in IT at the School of Information Technology, Deakin University. He received his PhD from Monash University. His research is in the areas of data mining, machine learning and artificial intelligence. He is interested in their applications to solve real-world problems in various domains. He works in similarity measures, anomaly detection, classification, text/image analysis, ensemble learning, learning from small subsamples of data, and robust/explainable machine learning. Prior to joining Deakin University in 2019, he worked as a lecturer at Federation University Australia and sessional teaching staff at various institutions. Before moving to academia, he worked in industry as a data engineer and software developer for a number of years.

Will Gates
A/Prof Will Gates
Senior Research Fellow,
Deakin University

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Associate Professor Will Gates is deputy director of the Australian Centre for Infrastructure Durability at Deakin University's Institute for Frontier Materials. He is a clay mineralogist and physical chemist who seeks to create new or improved useful industrial and engineered materials by study of their structural, surface, physical and chemical properties as they relate to their functional performance. His main focus are bentonites as technical hydraulic barriers, as carriers for bio-active molecules and as useful industrial minerals. He also works with concretes, soils and other porous stuff to lower the cost of and to improve remediation (e.g. per- and polyfluoralkyl substance, or PFAS). In this regard, he has led research using heat-treated soil as supplementary fine aggregate replacement and supplementary cementitious materials to create structure concrete with the whole soil, gaining 100% replacement of fine aggregate, plus some of the coarse aggregate (depending on the soil) and up to 13% of the cement binder normally used. Other projects include developing new liner technologies for these same emerging environmental contaminants and understanding water dynamics in bentonites subjected to extreme conditions of temperature, water content and salinity.

Nawshad Haque
Dr Nawshad Haque
Senior Scientist,
CSIRO Energy

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Dr Nawshad Haque is a Senior Scientist at CSIRO Australia. Dr Haque led multiple projects investigating mineral resources and processing of critical minerals and rare earth metals with a number of PhD projects completion and publications. Currently leads projects on the critical minerals for renewable energy applications. He co-ordinates undergraduate courses on mineral processing (Monash University Australia), sustainability and life cycle assessment (Swinburne University Australia), and is an Adjunct with RMIT University for collaboration with Bangladesh BCSIR. He offers lectures and workshops over a decade and co-supervised 10 PhD students to completion on environmental aspects of mining and metallurgy. Currently he co-supervises four PhD students. He has been a guest lecturer at multiple universities. Dr Haque manages several high level inter-governmental scientific collaborations and is the Leader for the MoU signing between large multiple research organisations, government science agencies, ministries and universities.

Dr Haque has been awarded a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from The University of Sydney in 2002. Dr Haque is an elected Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Australian Institute of Energy, and The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) UK, and was a Director of the Board of the Australian Life Cycle Assessment Society for 10 years.

His current research focus now as Leader of multiple projects to develop techno-economic and environmental modelling tools using LCA for potentially a future multibillion dollars hydrogen energy systems in Australia. Dr Haque has extensively studied LCA of a variety of metals, including rare earth, aluminium, magnesium, ferroalloy, gold and nickel to identify opportunities for energy, CO2 emission, water use and waste reduction for products.

Zhehan Weng
Dr Zhehan Weng
Resources Engineering,
Department of Civil Engineering,
Monash University

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Dr Weng is an experienced Environmental Engineer with research strength in multidisciplinary assessment of sustainability issues in critical mineral and metal supply chain, including expertise of industrial ecology. He has extensive research experience in multi-disciplinary research combining environmental science, economic geology, industrial ecology, and environmental impact assessment of critical mineral resources (e.g. Potash, Cobalt, Niobium, & Rare earth elements etc.) in Australia and Europe.

Dr Weng has consistently participated in international research programs from top scientific institutes and universities of the global resources sector including: The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) Minerals Down Under Research Flagship, European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) RawMaterials, Geoscience Australia & Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies with many leading journal publications.

Prof Nicholas Feltovich
Department of Economics,
Monash Business School,
Monash University

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Professor Feltovich’s research interests are in game theory, computational economics, experimental economics, and industrial organisation.