In order to secure the minerals needed to make the world greener and more sustainable, rocks need to be crushed and the resulting fine material further processed. Once valuable minerals have been extracted, the question arises as to what to do with the remaining materials? Traditionally, they were deposited in tailing ponds, often employing tall dams. Today, as a result of the justified blowback from tailing dam failures and the quest for more sustainable solutions, exciting innovation is taking place in labs and in the field. Often, what was viewed as waste not so long ago, has become a valuable resource. Tailings are treated to extract valuable minerals, including rare earths, and waste rock has been found to naturally absorb CO2. Ways are being found to reduce water use and recycle more of it. These advances help enhance sustainability and conservation in sectors beyond mining, benefitting agriculture, urban ecosystems and nature as a whole. White-coat types, women and men, such as metallurgists, process engineers and environmental geoscientists are literally helping save the world, and often having fun doing so.