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Integrating trace element and automated mineralogical analysis (CENTA2-SGGE7-SMIT)

Project Description

Advances in instrumentation and software have dramatically improved our ability to rapidly analyse geological samples, obtaining detailed chemical, textural and mineralogical data. Such data are transforming both academic research and applied geoscience, particularly in mineral resources.

This project will help to advance the application of SEM-based and semi-automated technologies to the analysis of ores, with a particular focus on trace elements in ore minerals. Such modernised characterisation of compositional and mineralogical relationships will facilitate better understanding of the formation and location of economic ore-minerals, in addition to more efficient and environmentally-friendly ways of processing them. This represents an important growth area in the near future of mineral resources; a global drive for cleaner growth and more renewable energy is increasing the amount of exotic metals that we need. Often, these are only found as by-products in ores of copper, iron or gold. Our ability to rapidly and confidently analyse potential by-products in ore minerals has never been so important.

The University of Leicester has state-of-the-art mineral analysis facilities, offering an “integrated workflow” of analyses from optical light microscopy, to SEM-based automated mineralogy, on to high-resolution micro-beam trace element analysis via µXRF and/or LA ICP-MS. The application of some of these techniques – particularly µXRF – to by-product analysis of ore minerals are largely untested, yet there is a pressing need for industry and policymakers to have ready access to data and information on the rare metals that ores contain.

Within this project, you will work within the Centre for Sustainable Resource Extraction, alongside geologists and chemists, to quantify the capabilities of novel techniques in ore analysis, establish new methods for sample analysis, and establish key targets for the future supply of by-product metals.

Entry Requirements:

UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

Available for UK and EU applicants only.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility: http://www.nerc.ac.uk/skills/postgrad/

How to Apply:

Please follow refer to the How to Apply section at http://www2.le.ac.uk/study/research/funding/centa/how-to-apply-for-a-centa-project and use the Geography Apply button to submit your PhD application.

Upload your CENTA Studentship Form in the proposal section of the application form.

In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for NERC CENTA Studentship.

Under the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisor and project title/project code you want to apply for.

Funding Notes

This project is one of a number of fully funded studentships available to the best UK and EU candidates available as part of the NERC DTP CENTA consortium.

For more details of the CENTA consortium please see the CENTA website: View Website.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility: View Website

The studentship includes a 3.5 year tuition fee waiver at UK/EU rates

An annual tax free stipend (For 2019/20 this is currently £15,009)

Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £8,000.


Holwell, D.A., Adeyemi, Z., Ward, L.A., Smith, D.J., Graham, S.D., McDonald, I. and Smith, J.W., 2017. Low temperature alteration of magmatic Ni-Cu-PGE sulfides as a source for hydrothermal Ni and PGE ores: A quantitative approach using automated mineralogy. Ore Geology Reviews, 91, pp.718-740.

Haschke, M., Rossek, U., Tagle, R. and Waldschläger, U., 2012. Fast elemental mapping with micro-XRF. Adv X Ray Anal, 55, pp.286-298.

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