Mining is quite a resource and energy intensive process. It can take a lot of work to get the minerals we need out of the ground. Technology has improved a lot over the last 10 years, so where we can and when it’s practical to do so, we try to recycle metals and minerals or go over old tailings to get any remaining minerals out.
Even though we want to, we can’t recycle everything – we might not have the technology yet, and somethings are just too expensive or too energy intensive to justify.
And with a growing population, we need more minerals for making everyday things. By 2025, the tungsten market is predicted to grow by more than 8% per year as demand increases.
EQ Resources’ Mt Carbine Project in Queensland takes old mine tailings and reprocesses them to get the last little bit of Tungsten out. They do this by putting the tailings through a machine that uses x-rays to sort and extract the tungsten, then the remaining rock is used for roads and local infrastructure projects.
We can recycle minerals for different purposes. Lithium Australia recycle lithium batteries by extracting the lithium to help supply the growing demand globally. They also reuse the other metals and minerals in the battery- zinc and manganese. Lithium Australia are running a trial where they take these recycled minerals from alkaline battery recycling to mix with phosphate to use for growing crops like wheat.