The present paper discusses the challenges both from the technical and non-technical point of views in unlocking alternative resources of lower grade and above ground (urban) metal ores. The lower concentration of the targeted metals and more complex composition of these alternative sources provide challenges in processing and recovering all the valuable metals. There is limited thermodynamic information and the lack of understanding of the behavior of the elements during processing. A comprehensive approach addressing both the technical and non-technical barriers need to be applied for maximizing the resource efficiency and wealth generation. A number of examples on innovation for processing alternative resources developed in the author’s laboratory are also discussed. These include the electrically enhanced boron impurities removal from metallurgical grade silicon and selective sulfidation to remove chrome spinels (such as chromite FeCr2O4) impurities from weathered ilmenite (FeTiO3).