The New Zealand Institute for Minerals to Materials Research was established in August 2017 as one of four Regional Research Institutes. It is based in Greymouth, Tai Poutini / West Coast. At its inception, it was provided $11 million of seed funding under contract to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
Its purpose is to research new economic opportunities from adding value to New Zealand’s mineral resources, including low-emissions technologies. This work supports the Government’s Minerals and Petroleum Resources Strategy for Aotearoa New Zealand 2019 – 2029, for promoting a domestic minerals industry.
The NZIMMR uses a stage-gate approach to identify and approve funding for its research projects, and this process carries a strong environmental weighting. They currently include: enhancing gold recovery from alluvial mining, tungsten metallurgy, carbon foam, the economic recovery of rare earth elements, opportunities for mining silica, and new uses for pounamu.
Our potential contribution includes the ethical sourcing of clean-tech minerals, e.g. REEs for use in wind turbines and electric vehicles, and to increase the security of minerals supply for New Zealand, in accordance with good practice in social performance and sustainability.
To propel the research programme, two laboratories are under construction at Spring Creek / Waimatuku, one a minerals processing laboratory and the other, a minerals-to-materials laboratory. Due to be operational later in 2020, these facilities allow the building of in-house capability and strong research culture at the NZIMMR.
This investment is also fundamental to the NZIMMR developing strategic relationships with others, including in research, the mining industry, materials manufacturers, and with Tai Poutini / West Coast iwi. Our Vision Mātauranga strategy is operational.
The NZIMMR’s location in Greymouth is strategic. Here, regional minerals interests include alluvial gold mines, coal mines, and heavy mineral sands exploration. We are part of the West Coast community. We are also developing partnerships with larger minerals players in New Zealand. Adding value to minerals follows a step-ladder approach – from mining raw materials to minerals processing, to intermediate, and, ultimately, consumer products. The NZIMMR’s is a long game, with many stages to reach along the way. Above all, the NZIMMR is a research institute, with the uncertainties that research entails in seeking to promote economic outcomes.
Among NZIMMR aims is to work with smaller operators to unlock the potential of their mining operations, on the principle of “mine once and recover all”. We are also working to help make uneconomic minerals economic, to meet ongoing, growing demand worldwide for minerals and materials.
NZIMMR’s Board of Directors is chaired by West Coast company director Raelyn Lourie, and the Institute employs eight staff, including with research experience in materials science, geology, chemistry and metallurgy.
Revitalise the West Coast
by attracting investment, creating employment, and developing strong stakeholder relationships.
environmentally sustainable ways to extract more value from New Zealand minerals.
in minerals and materials research.
The New Zealand Institute for Minerals to Materials Research is committed to supporting Vision Mātauranga. This will be demonstrated by building a strong collaborative relationship with Ngāi Tahu, a substantial landholder on the West Coast and receiver of benefits from any minerals produced. The West Coast-based hapū of Ngāi Tahu are Ngāti Waewae and Makaawhio. We will maintain relationships with both local hapū. Our principal engagement will be through Ngāti Waewae. The following whakataukī represents the core philosophy which the NZIMMR shares with Ngāti Waewae: “Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei” – for us and our children after us. NZIMMR is committed to working with Ngāti Waewae to incorporate Ngāti Waewae mātauranga (traditional knowledge) and strategies (tikanga) into its projects.