Tag Archives: Economic and Environmental Earth Sciences division

The importance of being an unglamorous collection | Curator of Micropalaeontology

Most geological collections we hear about in the news are the prettiest, oldest, youngest, largest, smallest, rarest, most expensive or have some exciting story related to them that ties them to the evolution of our planet. Dinosaurs, human remains and meteorites are particularly popular. Over the last year we’ve embarked on a major curatorial project rehousing something that is the opposite – an unglamorous collection of bags of crushed rock.

Protective equipment

Curators Becky Smith, Helena Toman and Robin Hansen in protective equipment.

I’ll be explaining why the samples needed to be re-housed and most importantly why they are strategically important to the work of the Museum and needed to be kept for future reference. And also why we are all dressed up in protective equipment and why I had to learn to drive a fork lift truck! Continue reading

Field trip to Zambia | CoG3 Consortium

The Central African copper belt is one of the world’s most important copper producing districts, with dozens of deposits spanning a 400km length through the Democratic Republic of Congo and northern Zambia. Of these copper deposits, a select few contain significant quantities of cobalt, which is produced as a by-product of the ore refining process.

Rock cores

Core laid out at Kalalushi Core Shed

In June 2016 a field trip was undertaken to Zambia in order to examine cobalt-rich ore from the copper belt. Dr Alex Webber, Research Fellow at the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton and member of the COG3 Consortium reports from the field trip.

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Sample collection from the Nkamouna Deposit in Cameroon | CoG3 Consortium

CoG3 project member and University of Manchester PhD student Sulaiman Mulroy reports back on a recent fieldwork trip to Cameroon in West Africa.

In June 2016 I travelled to Cameroon to collect samples from the Nkamouna laterite, one of a number of lateritic ore deposits formed on top of lenticular serpentinite rocks, which cover around 240km2 in the East of Cameroon.

Team members

Gideon, myself and Karrimo

 

In total the region hosts seven lateritic ore bodies, covering ~1250km2, though only two have been subjected to rigorous exploration: Nkamouna has proven and probable reserves of 54Mt at grades of 0.25% Co and 1.7% Ni, and further north, at Mada, 150Mt of inferred resources of similar grade are believed to be hosted in the laterite.

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Annual Science Advisory Board meeting | CoG3 Consortium

Dr Paul Schofield gives an account of the CoG3 project’s annual Science Advisory Board meeting, held on the 6 and 7 June 2016 at the Bangor Acidophile Research Team (BART) centre, Bangor University.

The overall purpose of our Science Advisory Board is to assess and advise upon the strategic direction of the team’s project, CoG3: Geology, Geochemistry and Geomicrobiology of Cobalt. It also ensures that all components of the project stay focused on their objectives and remain sufficiently integrated so that the entire project can deliver the desired impact.

Ores presentation

Dr Gideon Lambiv describes the ore zone at the Nkamouna laterite deposit in Cameroon

The meeting was hosted by Barrie Johnson and Sarah Smith of Bangor University. Continue reading

Fieldwork in Brazil | CoG3 Consortium

In April 2016 the CoG3 team travelled to Brazil to carry out fieldwork at the Piauí deposit. Researcher Dr Paul Schofield describes their trip:

Cobalt is a technology-enabling metal with numerous applications that are particularly essential to the ‘green agenda’. Despite cobalt being such a critical material, there is a very high risk associated with its supply.

Our project, CoG3: Geology, Geochemistry and Geomicrobiology of cobalt, aims to increase the security of the cobalt supply chain by:

  • identifying new, currently unused cobalt resources
  • developing new biotechnologies for effective extraction and processing of cobalt
Piauí deposit landscape

View from the top of the Piauí deposit

One resource with the potential for bioprocessing is limonitic laterite deposits, one of which is the Piauí nickel-cobalt laterite deposit in Brazil. Continue reading

A visit to the UK’s synchrotron facility | CoG3 Consortium

Researcher Dr Agnieszka Dybowska describes a recent visit to Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron science facility, during which the CoG3 team completed their first detailed spectroscopic analysis of laterite samples.

On Thursday 28 April we headed to Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire, hoping to carry out atomic scale analysis of a sample from the Shevchenko laterite deposit in Kazakhstan – one of the samples we’re investigating as a potential new source of cobalt.

Diamond Light Source

The synchrotron building at Diamond Light Source, Oxfordshire

For some of us this was the first visit to a synchrotron facility, and definitely a great experience!

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Inspiring the next generation | CoG3 Consortium

Ed Thomas, PhD student on the CoG3 project, explains the importance of cobalt to a group of school children in Manchester.

As a Widening Participation Fellow I am often involved with outreach events encouraging school children in to science, technology, engineering and maths subjects. My workshops are usually based on an aspect of Earth Sciences that the children have come across before; the rock cycle, dinosaurs, volcanoes…

Photo of Ed in front of a whiteboard  presentation

Explaining to a class of nine year old’s the importance of cobalt

However, the most engaging part of science is not what we already know, but the unsolved problems we face as a society. It is one of these unanswered questions I posed to year 9 children from four schools in Greater Manchester.

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