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The mission of the Institute is defined as scientific research of Earth crust materials and processes and their effects on the environment. Research activities are aimed predominantly at the field of processes induced by human activities in the Earth's crust. The main topics of the Institute's research can be defined as follows: the structure and properties of materials in the upper part of the Earth's crust including anthropogenic sediments; physical laws and mechanisms of (human) induced processes in rock masses; methods and instruments used for both laboratory and field research of induced processes; mathematical methods and their application in computer simulation of processes in rock masses; unconventional methods of exploitation of the Earth's crust (geotechnologies, disintegration, properties influencing rock mass, special methods of waste material deposition); geography of the environment.

The Institute participates successfully in number of national and international projects as well as in industrial projects. Specific areas in which the Institute can offer its long-time expertise, methods and instrumentation are: rock properties and petrology, geomechanical and geotechnical research, material disintegration, image processing and analysis, applied mathematics, physicochemical processes in minerals, geophysics and special measurement methods, safety research, and environmental geography.

Originally known as the Mining Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Ostrava, the Institute of Geonics was founded in 1982. After 1989, structural changes in the Institute resulted in its reduction and, at the same time, the Brno Branch was incorporated into the Institute's structure. Since 1993, the Institute had the name of the Institute of Geonics (geonics meaning the area of geosciences focused on processes induced by human activities).

The Institute has premises in Ostrava and Brno. The total number of employees is just over 100.