Associate Professor James Vaughan

Associate Professor

School of Chemical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology
+61 7 336 53850



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)

Research Interests

  • Hydrometallurgy
    leaching, precipitation, crystallisation, ion exchange, membranes, electrowinning

Research Impacts

My research in hydrometallurgy is used for process development and improvements. Examples of contributions are as follows:

  • Selective acid leach process for refining mixed Ni-Co hydroxide precipitate licensed to Pure Battery Technologies
  • Low cost zeolite production technology licensed to Zeotech
  • New approaches for bauxite impurity management in the production of alumina
  • A hydrometallurgical route for recovering Ni and K from agromined bio-ore
  • The synergistic copper process


  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of British Columbia


View all Publications


View all Grants


  • Doctor Philosophy

  • (2021) Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision


Book Chapter

  • Laubie, Baptiste, Vaughan, James and Simonnot, Marie-Odile (2020). Processing of hyperaccumulator plants to nickel products. Agromining: farming for metals: extracting unconventional resources from plants. (pp. 47-61) Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-58904-2_3

  • Peng, Hong, Peters, Steven and Vaughan, James (2019). Leaching kinetics of thermally-activated, high silica bauxite. Light metals 2019. (pp. 11-17) Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-05864-7_2

  • Vogrin, John, Hodge, Harrison, Santini, Talitha, Peng, Hong and Vaughan, James (2019). Quantitative X-ray diffraction study into bauxite residue mineralogical phases. Light metals 2019. (pp. 93-99) edited by Corleen Chesonis. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-05864-7_13

  • Simonnot, Marie-Odile, Vaughan, James and Laubie, Baptiste (2018). Processing of bio-ore to products. Agromining: farming for metals. Extracting Unconventional Resources Using Plants. (pp. 39-51) edited by Antony van der Ent, Guillaume Echevarria, Alan J. M. Baker and Jean Louis Morel. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-61899-9_3

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision