Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, has announced €28m in funding for new research projects under the Irish Research Council’s flagship Government of Ireland programmes. The investment will fund 330 awards in total, namely 254 postgraduate scholarships and 76 postdoctoral fellowships.
Dr Danny Hnatyshin of iCRAG at UCD has been awarded an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship. Danny's project will help address how Europe will secure the critical raw materials (e.g. metals) required to transition into a carbon neutral society. Sourcing of raw materials from mineral deposits within Europe could significantly reduce the EU’s annual trade deficit in metallic raw materials, which in 2018 stood at €15.6 billion. Local sourcing of materials will also reduce the economic and climate costs of transporting materials and will ensure that resources are extracted in an environmentally friendly way. The successful exploration for, and discovery of, new sources of raw materials requires sophisticated models of mineral deposit formation.
A key constraint for developing these models is knowing when a mineral deposit formed and how this may relate to other regional events. During this fellowship Danny will be using, and improving upon, recently developed age dating methods (i.e. sulphide Re-Os geochronology) to determine the age and genesis of existing mineral deposits in Ireland, Poland, and Germany. Previous projects have restricted age dating to local scales that make it difficult to confidently extrapolate findings to the regional scales required for resource exploration.
In contrast to previous studies Danny will expand dating to the regional/national scale. The ability to identify and predict distributions of ore deposits at these larger scales should indicate areas that are favourable for additional discovery, thus focusing additional research by government and academia, as well as exploration expenditure by industry. The database created by this study will also improve the science and rationale behind policies associated with the Green Deal and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.