Critical Metals

Our research on Critical Minerals focuses on four general themes:
(1) understanding the fundamental geochemical processes responsible for mobilisation of critical minerals within the Earth;
(2) generating ore deposit formation models applicable to the enrichment of critical metals;
(3) using our observations of mineral replacement processes to develop new methods of processing critical metal-bearing ores, and;
(4) improving our understanding of critical mineral behaviour in weathering environments including mine wastes, and the roles of microorganisms in regulating these processes.

Our research involves fieldwork at a broad range of locations globally, experimental studies conducted in our High Pressure- Temperature Experimental Lab, and world-class analytical facilities, such as the Australian Synchrotron, Monash Centre for Electron Microscopy, Monash X-ray Platform, CSIRO Electron Microbeam Lab, and SEAE laser ablation facilities.

Research Team

Prof Joel Brugger
Synchrotron Geoscience and Geochemistry

Prof Andy Tomkins
Andy is studying the metamorphic, igneous and structural processes responsible for producing and mobilising fluids rich in ligands capable of transporting critical metals from their source regions to points of accumulation in the crust.

Prof Peter Cawood
Peter researches the evolution of the continental crust, particularly the continental amalgamation zones that exert a first-order control on mineral deposits. His work on critical minerals concerns their spatial and temporal distribution within the crust and their relationship to first order tectonic processes.

Dr Andrew Frierdich
Low-temperature Geochemistry and Mineralogy, Environmental Science, Sustainable ore-processing

Assoc Prof Vanessa Wong
Land and water management impacts, soil biogeochemical processes, soil-water interactions

Mineral maps collected by electron microprobe showing the effects of metamictisation on the mobility of Rare Earth Elements, U and Th in graninitic source rocks (McGloin et al., 2015)