Recyclable Resources Atlas

As Australia’s cities grow and the population increases, more buildings will be built, and more consumer electronic products such as TV sets, mobile phones, computers and household appliances will be bought. As a consequence, increasing numbers of buildings and products will reach their end-of-life and be disposed of and replaced. Australia’s cities are therefore valuable ‘urban mines’, containing substantial amounts of metals and minerals that may be extracted and reprocessed in a more energy-efficient way compared to smelting metals from virgin ores.

The Australian Recyclable Resources Atlas presents the estimated in-use stock of metals in urban areas in Australia, and aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the urban mines of the future in Australia.

Specifically, the atlas maps:

  • the spatial distributions of various metals (steel, copper and zinc) in buildings and electronic waste using data and proxy indicators
  • the existing infrastructure for collection and resource recovery
  • how social practices of recycling are related to demographic characteristics



GIS and Urban Mining

Zhu, Xuan. 2014. Resources. 3(1), 235-247.
  • Geographical information systems (GIS) provide an effective tool for mapping the geographical distributions of ‘urban mines’ of recyclable resources
  • GIS can be used to measure, report, analyze and visualize the spatial characteristics of recyclable resources and associated collection and recovery systems, along with issues and challenges
  • This information can be used to model material flows, assess social and environmental impacts of urban mining, and inform policy-makers


Dr Xuan Zhu