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Rio Tinto launches $132M research centre for sustainable critical minerals extraction methods

Rio Tinto Group is opening a new research facility at Imperial College London focused on developing more sustainable methods of mining, mineral extraction and material processing.

The Anglo-Australian mining giant announced Tuesday that it will invest $131.8 million over the next 10 years in the Centre for Future Materials research facility. Construction of the centre will begin later this year and the first research programs will start in 2024.

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“All aspects of human society rely on materials – from housing to transport, energy, communications and health. We need to create sustainable ways to extract, process, and reuse these resources,” said Mary Ryan, Vice Provost for Research and Enterprise at Imperial College London.

The two organizations say they will define a set of major global challenges that need to be addressed through the partnership and work with a select number of academic institutions throughout the globe to address those issues. The funding from Rio Tinto will be distributed over the course of a 10-year period.

The hub will be directed by Jan Cilliers, Chair in Mineral Processing from the school’s Department of Earth Science and Engineering. The key partners for the new research facility will be announced in the coming months.

The new centre will focus on developing more environmentally and economically sustainable methods of producing, using and recycling vital materials like rare earth elements (REE) and critical minerals and will follow the principles of Imperial College London’s Transition to Zero Pollution Initiative. The initiative is primarily concerned with addressing climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution from chemicals.

Imperial College London is one of the world’s leading institutions focused on science and engineering – I cannot wait to see the progress we make, as we bring together the best of industry and academia, with shared ambition,” said Rio Tinto’s CEO Jakob Stausholm.

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