Researcher biography


Associate Professor James Vaughan is the Metallurgy Major Lead and head of the Hydrometallurgy Research Group within the School of Chemical Engineering. He obtained a Bachelor's degree in Metallurgical Engineering at McGill University followed by Master of Applied Science and PhD degrees in Materials Engineering at The University of British Columbia in Canada. Before joining UQ, James gained experience as a research engineer with Placer Dome in gold and BHP in nickel. While at UQ James served as Director of the University of Queensland Rio Tinto Bauxite & Alumina Technology Centre, Chief Investigator for the ARC Research Hub for Australian Copper-Uranium, and lead Chief Investigator for the CRC-P "Value-added cobalt refining technologies powering advanced batteries" with Pure Battery Technologies. James is currently Chief Investigator for the ARC Discovery Project "Inorganic Membrane Percrystallisation in Hydrometallurgy" and "Extracting Queensland's Rare Earth elements Sustainably" supported by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy as well as for the Low-Cost Zeolite Pilot Plant Project with Zeotech. He is a member of the TMS, CIM and AusIMM professional societies.


James' research focuses on the fundamental aspects of leaching, ion exchange and precipitation reactions as well as membrane separations. These projects are of interest to the base metals, precious metals and alumina refining industries as well as in the fabrication of value added materials such as lithium ion battery cathode precursors and zeolites.

Current Projects:

  1. Extracting Queensland's rare earth elements sustainably
  2. New approach for producing zeolites from clay or mine tailings
  3. Inorganic membrane percrystallisation in hydrometallurgy
  4. Separating radionuclides from ore, concentrate or tailings

Teaching and Learning:

  • Course coordinator and lecturer in Hydrometallurgy and Electrometallurgy (METL6204)
  • Course coordinator and lecturer in Metal Production and Recycling (METL2201)