Menu Close

Daniel Franks is a Professor at the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute. He is known internationally for his work on the interconnections between minerals, materials and sustainable development, with a particular focus on the role of minerals in poverty reduction and the social and environmental change associated with mining and energy extraction.

Originally trained as a geologist, he began his career as a field geoscientist. After retraining in political and social sciences, he worked at the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Water; held research and teaching positions at Griffith University and The University of Queensland, where he was previously the Deputy Director of the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining; and was Chief Technical Advisor at the United Nations Development Programme, where he ran a programme focussed on the sustainable development of construction materials.

Professor Franks has field experience at more than 75 mining and energy sites internationally and nearly 40 countries. His research was publicly cited by the Chief Operating Officer of the International Council on Mining and Metals as “academic research that has changed the mineral industry.” He has held visiting appointments with Columbia University, New York, the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Western Australia, Central European University, and Universidad Católica del Norte, Chile. He is a member of the scientific board of UNESCO’s International Geosciences Programme, and an advisor to the United Nations Development Programme, and the United Nations Environment Program on mineral sustainability issues. Professor Franks is the author of more than 135 publications across 10 languages, including the book ‘Mountain Movers: Mining, sustainability and the agents of change’ (Earthscan, 2015).


  • 2018–present
    Professor, The University of Queensland
  • 2015–2018
    Chief Technical Advisor, United Nations Development Programme
  • 2008–2015
    Senior Fellow, The University of Queensland


  • 2008 
    Griffith University, PhD Resource Governance & Policy
  • 2000 
    University of Queensland, Bachelor of Science (Honours)
  • 1998 
    University of Queensland, Bachelor of Science (Earth Sciences)