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Mackay recently took a significant step towards the future of Queensland’s resources sector with the unveiling of the FlexiLab concept design. This pioneering pilot critical minerals processing plant aims to be at the forefront of research, development, testing and training in the resources industry.

Backed by a $5.7 million investment from the Miles Government, FlexiLab stands as a testament to Queensland’s commitment to innovation and sustainability in mining.

Envisioned as a common-user facility, FlexiLab will offer a unique space for industry professionals to explore and refine the processing of minerals critical to the advancement of new technologies, including renewable energy. These minerals include, but are not limited to, cobalt, nickel, zinc, vanadium, molybdenum, silica, alumina and rare earth elements.

Resources and Critical Minerals Minister Scott Stewart, speaking at the Resources Centre of Excellence in Mackay, emphasised FlexiLab’s role in supporting the industry’s journey towards processing and recovering minerals beyond traditional outputs.

“Mackay is a key player in Queensland’s critical minerals sector. Investments in initiatives like FlexiLab will help to ensure a strong resources future for the community and for Queensland for decades to come,” he said.

“Queensland’s critical minerals are needed to build our future energy supplies and this facility is a step towards ensuring the entire minerals lifecycle from pit to product stays within Queensland.”

The initiative also aligns with the Miles Government’s broader vision for the resources industry, aiming to create a comprehensive ‘pit to product’ value chain. This move not only fosters job creation but also addresses the challenges posed by a shift towards a low-carbon economy. The establishment of the FlexiLab, together with the ongoing construction of the Queensland Resources Common User Facility in Townsville, marks a pivotal moment in the state’s resources development strategy.

The Resources Centre of Excellence, which opened its doors in mid-2020, plays a crucial role in this ecosystem by providing educational and training opportunities, as well as supporting innovation and product development within the industry.


Steven Boxall, CEO of the Resources Centre of Excellence, said the concept is a milestone of collaborative success.

“The Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday region has long been known for its ability to adapt and capture new industries and we now look to use our mining, METS and agriculture expertise to support the emerging critical minerals sector.

“Understanding the opportunities and technologies required to successfully transform end-of-life and closed mine sites through economic rehabilitation will be invaluable. The Queensland Government and the visionary nature of the Queensland Resource Industry Development Plan has specifically funded this project and for that we are extremely grateful,” Steven said.

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert also voiced her support saying, “The resources industry is a huge part of Mackay’s economy supporting thousands of jobs and countless businesses.”

As Queensland strides forward in its resources industry development, initiatives like FlexiLab embody the innovative spirit and collaborative effort essential for harnessing the opportunities of tomorrow’s critical minerals market.

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