The University of Queensland and mining giant Vale have launched a five year $1.25 million partnership to research how microorganisms can be used for mining.
In a statement today UQ said under the alliance researchers would investigate how microorganisms found in Vale's mineral deposits could be used for industrial applications.
"Their genomes will be studied and mapped, and possible mechanisms for optimising their metal processing functions will be investigated and trialled," it said.
UQ said mining companies had recently shown a growing interest in the field and the body of research proved microorganisms were implicated in the formation of some iron, uranium, and gold deposits.
UQ also said improving research on this front would help create more sustainable mining practices.
Earlier this month Vale teamed up with the University of São Paulo to identify "copper eating" bacteria that could help mine mineral waste.
Whilst the research is still in its early stages Vale is hoping it can use bacteria to recover copper from its tailing dams.