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Understanding uptake of sustainable technologies by small-scale collective mining operations in West Africa, Camborne School of Mines, PhD Studentship (Funded)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, May 19, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Join a world-leading, cross-continental research team

The University of Exeter and the University of Queensland are seeking exceptional students to join a world-leading, cross-continental research team tackling major challenges facing the world’s population in global sustainability and wellbeing as part of the QUEX Institute. The joint PhD programme provides a fantastic opportunity for the most talented doctoral students to work closely with world-class research groups and benefit from the combined expertise and facilities offered at the two institutions, with a lead supervisor within each university. This prestigious programme provides full tuition fees, stipend, travel funds and research training support grants to the successful applicants. The studentship provides funding for up to 42 months (3.5 years).

Ten generous, fully-funded studentships are available for the best applicants, five offered by the University of Exeter and five by the University of Queensland. This select group will spend at least one year at each University and will graduate with a joint degree from the University of Exeter and the University of Queensland.

Find out more about the PhD studentships

Successful applicants will have a strong academic background and track record to undertake research projects based in one of the three themes of: Physical Activity and Nutrition; Healthy Ageing; and Environmental Sustainability.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 19 May 2019 (BST), with interviews taking place week commencing 8 July 2019. The start date will be January 2020.

Please note that of the seven Exeter led projects advertised, we expect that up to five studentships will be awarded to Exeter based students.


Exeter Academic Lead: Dr Penda Diallo, Camborne School of Mines

Queensland Academic Lead: Dr Kathryn Sturman (CSRM-SMI, UQ)

Project Description:

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12 aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns along global value chains relating to resource development. However, little is known of the adaptive practises that would be needed to achieve this goal, particularly in developing parts of the world.

The environmental impacts of artisanal and small-scale gold (ASMG) mining are a serious threat to the fragile ecosystems of sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 13 million people seeking out livelihoods from this activity in West Africa alone (Hilson & McQuilken, 2014). Considerable attention and funding has been focused on reducing the use of mercury in these operations. There is an urgent need for strategies to address other aspects of water pollution, land degradation, soil erosion, desertification and loss of biodiversity caused by ASMG (Ali, Sturman & Collins, 2018).

This project involves the ethnographic study of the environmental and social infrastructure of mining in West Africa, focusing particularly on the extraction of small high-grade gold deposits by local collectives in Niger. The PhD will particularly focus on local efforts to improve environmental impacts conditions for small- and medium-scale mining enterprises in Niger, working closely with government and NGOs to understand the social and physical infrastructure and markets for gold produced by small- and medium- scale mining in Niger.

This research will also address the movement of knowledge and expertise across scales by examining the global value chains that connect local African enterprises with global mining.

The results of the study will contribute towards policy development aimed at the transformation of business practices relating to mining, including through the uptake of advanced processing methods and technological solutions to environmental harm. To achieve this, the project will use data and research findings from Europe and Australia, including the results of the [email protected] project funded by the European Commission. [email protected] developed a low throughput (5 tph - tonne per hour) adaptable processing facility using relatively low environmental impact and simple processing methods (dominantly gravity methods) suitable for implementation across the developing world.

The expected outputs from this research will include peer-reviewed publications; interdisciplinary seminars; and conference papers. The findings of the research will be disseminated through various channels. Dissemination of the research will be through community gatherings, seminars, conferences, stakeholder events, and television and adio debates. These dissemination activities will involve both non-academic and academic stakeholders.

Funding Notes

Full tuition fees, stipend of £15,000 p.a, travel funds of up to £15,000, and RTSG of £15,000 are available over the 3.5 year studentship

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