- Research Assistant
Maurice Brodbeck is a PhD researcher in the iCRAG raw materials research spoke. He graduated 2015 with a BSc and an MSc from the University of Tübingen, before joining iCRAG in January 2016 under the supervision of Prof. Balz Kamber. His research focuses on the distribution of precious metals and ECEs at different scales (ore-body, ore-shoot to mineral scales). Samples and existing data from the sponsors will be used to define extreme Cu and Zn deposits in terms of ECE and ITN potential. Samples will be studied with LA-ICP-OES in order to establish how these elements partition into the primary ores. The final aim is to develop an ECE and precious metal distribution database, which could serve as an early stage exploration guide.
The growing demand for sustainable and renewable energy technologies entails the supply of sufficient amounts of raw materials. Energy critical elements (ECEs) are the key components, whose availability is critical for the large scale deployment of such energy related technologies. Copper ores contain for example the ECEs tellurium and selenium, which are needed in modern thin film photovoltaics. Unfortunately these metals are not extracted efficiently, because their distribution in the ore is not well understood.
I study the distribution of ECEs in copper ores, to contribute to an enhanced supply of urgently needed components for modern energy technologies.
Project title: The distribution of precious and energy critical elements at the scale of a Zn and Cu mineral deposit
Copper ores are host to a suite of trace metals that can either be of economic interest or serve as penalty elements in the extraction process. Among the valuable metals are gold, silver and the energy critical elements (ECEs) tellurium, selenium, cobalt, indium and rhenium. ECEs have in common that their appearance is critical to the large scale deployment of energy related technologies. Arsenic and thallium are penalty elements that also are environmental hazards.
There is very limited understanding of how these metals are distributed at the mineral- and at the ore-body scale and of their geochemical behaviour within copper ore systems. This aspect constrains effective extraction, processing and refining, which causes preventable waste of resources.
Consequently this project aims to contribute to an improved understanding of the distribution of trace metals in copper systems. State-of-the-art LA-ICP-MS technology is applied to spatially visualize and quantify the concentrations of trace metals in copper ores. Samples from different copper deposit types are compared to unravel trends in terms of ECE potential. It will be assessed if distribution and abundance of selected trace metals can meet economic levels.
- Specialist Staff
- Earth Resources
- Critical Materials