Researchers from the Queensland University use reconditioning facilities such as cobalt and nickel from mining waste disposal sites.
This is called phytomining, where special plants extract metals from the soil and concentrate on leaves and stems.
UQ's researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Minerals (SMI), Dr. Philip Nkrumah, develops the phytonutriation technology at the Mining Land Rehabilitation Center.
He says mining waste, often stored in waste landfills, contains valuable metals, including cobalt, and is "some of the largest unused resources on the global scale".
Tapping into this waste through phytomining not only generates additional sources of revenue, it offers a viable solution to the issues on the supply side of the industry will face, he says.
But is it effective?
"Some plant species can contain up to one percent of cobalt or four percent nickel in the flask, which means that more than 25 percent of metal in their asparagus is called" bio-ore, "says Dr. Nkrumah.
These are impressive grades to any extent:
High purity of metal with biological sources makes them particularly suitable for applications such as lithium-ion batteries, Dr. Nkrumah says.
Global efforts have led to the discovery of more than 100 new hyper-accumulation facilities for science.
NOW TO READ: Golden mushrooms would reveal a place where monsters are located