Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Associate Professor Sukhbir Sandhu

Main Campus
City West

Applications Close
02 Oct 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate

Tuition Fees:

All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$32,500 p.a. (2023 rates) available to domestic applicants only

About this project

Discover sustainable alternatives for mining waste

If you are motivated to build a career in business and keen to develop innovations in sustainability and the circular economy, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a hands-on project-based PhD within the Centre for Workplace Excellence (CWeX), in partnership with InnovEco Australia.

Mining and mineral processing contribute significantly to the Australian economy and remain vital in the global transition to a green economy. With the increasing demand for precious and critical metals, current conventional inefficient methods will lead to accumulation of valuable waste. For most Australian mining industries, integrating circular economy measures (i.e., enabling wastes to become inputs in the same or a different industry) remains challenging because there is no framework to assist with a successful transition to a green economy.  

For example, critical metals such as rare earth elements (REE) are key to electric vehicle and wind turbine production for a clean energy economy. However, these critical metals are lost to the waste-stream facility together with deleterious components (heavy metals). The circular economy requires multiple stakeholders to come together. This in turn demands trust and wise leadership. Our project will investigate how to bring together stakeholders to enable the circular economy to become the norm. 

Our aim is to uncover the circular economy measures required for a sustainable mining industry, how to foster trust among the multiple stakeholders and facilitate the wise leadership required to support the creation of circular economy-focused business cases. We also want to determine ways in which we can develop the capacity of organisations to apply circular principles, and how new technologies and mineral processing methods can influence the circularity principles of different mining industries. 

You will be based primarily at the Centre for Workplace Excellence (CWeX) but will also work closely with researchers and mentors at the Future Industries Institute (FII). You will benefit from the organisational and business model development research capacities at CWEX, the mineral processing capability of the Future Industries Institute, and ISER's globally transformative research into complexity, change, and creating value for a more sustainable future.   

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will address what circular economy measures are required for a sustainable mining industry, how to enable trust among stakeholders to support the creation of circular economy focused business cases, how to increase organisation capacity in relation to circular principles and how does new technology impact mineral processing methods. 

You will undertake primary and secondary data collection which will include travel to relevant mine sites. You will explore how new technologies that are aimed at processing wastes can contribute the circular economy requirements of mining industries. 

We will encourage and support you to disseminate this important research via academic publications, media outlets and conferences. You will have the opportunity share your findings by contributing to high quality energy, resources and mining journal and conference articles.

Where you’ll be based

At the Centre for Workplace Excellence (CWeX), we make it our business to give organisations the knowledge to empower them to achieve excellence in organisational productivity and employee wellbeing. Through our evidence-based research, we uncover invaluable insights and best practice on topics such as employee health, safety and wellbeing; workforce diversity and inclusion; bullying and harassment prevention; leadership, culture and performance; and human resource management systems, practices and structures to demonstrate how organisations can address the workplace challenges of today and into the future. 

Our solutions-focused approach will help you to identify what really works in the workplace, where changes can be made, and how organisations can evolve to become front runners in the global marketplace. We do the hard work through our multidisciplinary research to make sure that your workplace can function at its best, with guidance from the latest practices in workplace excellence.

Supervisory team

Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $32,500 per annum is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included.  For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to applications from Australian or New Zealand citizens, and Australian permanent residents or permanent humanitarian visa holders. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our City West campus in the heart of Adelaide.

Essential Dates

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer. Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Monday 2 October 2023.  

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

IMPORTANT: This site is optimised for the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox and Chrome. Note that earlier versions of any browsers mentioned are supported, but likely to demonstrate slower response times.

By choosing to continue, you agree to the privacy policy. Show Privacy Policy

Research and industry

Other projects you may be interested in

Latest news


If you wish to develop your own project please review our guidelines and contact the Graduate Research Admissions team if you have any questions. 

Contact us