A new partnership has been established between CSIRO and Swinburne University of Technology for the research and development of innovative green steel and mineral processing methods, in an effort to help industry reach net zero. 

The collaboration is expected to build national research capability across the Australian innovation system to help industry investigate low-emission steel technologies to guide future demonstrations and industry development. 

The Sustainable Mineral Processing and Green Steel Program partnership will address key net zero challenges for the mineral resources industry, including developing low-carbon routes for iron, steel and critical metals, as well as improving recycling technologies.  

Bringing new skills to the energy transition challenge is a crucial aspect of the partnership, with research fellows and PhD candidates from both institutions to work alongside international researchers and industry, including: 

  • Swinburne’s Professor Geoffrey Brooks, who won the Bessemer Gold Medal in 2023 for his contributions to more sustainable steelmaking, who will be appointed Chair
  • CSIRO’s Process Decarbonisation Research Group Leader, Keith Vining, who has overall responsibility for managing CSIRO’s research effort on sustaining Australia’s iron ore and improving the processes for enhanced productivity and environmental performance
  • CSIRO’s Dr Suneeti Purohit, a Swinburne PhD graduate, recipient of the Exceptional Woman in Victorian Resources 2023 Award and Net Zero Industries Young Talent Award 2023, will bring her expertise on steelmaking using solar power to the program
  • Swinburne’s Professor Akbar Rhamdhani, a noted expert in sustainable processing, particularly in battery materials and critical metals, who will play a significant role

Swinburne is emerging as a leader in the field of supply chain transformation and sustainability, a technological and societal priority area for organisations and governments worldwide.

As part of its Net Zero 2025 Pathways, the university has invested in researchers from minerals characterisation, minerals processing, pyrometallurgy and materials recycling. Coupled with CSIRO’s extensive minerals research and development expertise, researchers from both organisations will bring the program to life.  

The program will also provide a platform for international conferences and industry courses, as well as engagement for students through scholarships, joint final year projects and work experience programs. 

This work is supporting one of Australia’s hard-to-abate sectors to halve their emissions by 2035, and forms part of CSIRO’s Towards Net Zero Mission.

Swinburne Chief Scientist, Professor Virginia Kilborn, said that Swinburne is thrilled to be working with CSIRO on another program, this time using their combined strength in decarbonisation and green steel. 

“The university has a long-standing relationship with CSIRO, linking world-class capability across a vast range of strategic research areas,” Prof Kilborn said. 

“Green steel makes up a key part of Swinburne’s flagship research area ‘Innovative Planet’. This partnership is another active step taken by Swinburne towards global decarbonisation to achieve net zero.” 

Joint Swinburne/CSIRO Chair in Sustainable Mineral Processing, Professor Geoffrey Brooks, said that he was honoured to be appointed to the role. 

“I think the announcement further deepens our longstanding relationship with CSIRO in this important area,” Prof Brooks said. 

“I’m expecting Swinburne and CSIRO to play a key role in Australia’s drive towards green steel and producing critical metals in a sustainable manner. It’s a great time for innovation and implementing new ideas.” 

CSIRO Mineral Processing Research Director, Andrew Jenkin, said that developing new technologies and processes for producing low-emissions iron and steel, and increasing the supply of value-added critical minerals, are two focus areas within CSIRO’s ‘Sustainable Energy & Resources’ Challenge.  

“We are looking forward to increasing our collaborative efforts with Swinburne in these two areas,” Mr Jenkin said. 

CSIRO Carbon Steel Futures Research Group Leader, Keith Vining, said that to support decarbonisation efforts within the minerals industry, new R&D partnerships that bring together complementary capabilities are needed. 

“We have partnered well in this field with Swinburne for many years but have jointly decided that the time is right to amplify our intent and efforts.”  

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