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. Reclaim PV in South Australia are creating an entire circular economy by recycling 100% of solar panels. Aluminium, silicon, copper, glass, all of it. Even with the huge rise in solar, we’re only at 5% of our potential. With older panels coming up for replacement, and the demand for renewables outpacing our supply – we’re going to need all the minerals we can get.