Fully funded 4-year Ph.D position in Critical Metals available!

Institute: School of Earth Sciences/iCRAG, University College Dublin

Research project: Controls on high-grade stratiform Co mineralisation in the Central African Copperbelt (CRITICAL)

Supervisors: Dr. Lingli Zhou and Prof. Murray W. Hitzman

Position Summary:

A sustainable supply of energy critical battery metals (e.g., cobalt, nickel and lithium) is required if society is to succeed in the decarbonisation of the global economy. Understanding the genesis of such resources is needed for the discovery of new metal deposits. Most existing genetic models of ore deposit formation deal with major industrial metals (e.g., lead, zinc and copper). Genetic models do not yet exist for many critical metals such as cobalt, which are produced largely as by-products of major metals.

This fully-funded four-year PhD project will utilise an integrative approach through trace element, isotope and mineralogical geochemistry, seeking to determine the reasons for the precipitation of high grades of cobalt at the Tenke-Fungurume Mining (TFM) copper-cobalt (Cu-Co) mining district located in the northeast corner of the Central African Copperbelt. The TFM district contains one of world’s largest known resources of mineable cobalt (resources of 857.7 Mt at 2.9% Cu and 0.29% Co). The main objective of the Ph.D project is to develop i) a genetic model for high-grade cobalt mineralisation that is broadly applicable and ii) a geochemical vectoring toolkit for use by minerals industry.

This research project will be carried out in conjunction with the team of researchers at the SFI iCRAG Research Centre who focused on the geology of the Central African Copperbelt, the largest such research team worldwide. The Ph.D student will receive training in economic geology, geochemistry, and mineralogy. He/she will also have access to the world-class geochemical analytical facilities at University College Dublin (e.g. LA-MC-ICP-MS and TIMS), Trinity College Dublin (e.g., SEM-EDS and LA-ICP-MS) and NUI Galway (e.g. fluid inclusion analysis), and will receive specific training in the use of laboratories and analytical methods. Access to key software such as Iolite, ioGAS and Leapfrog will also be provided. 

Fixed salary: €18,500 annual tax-free stipend

Principal duties and responsibilities

• Work independently and manage the project efficiently, commit adequate time and effort to the project

• Sampling, detailed microscopy characterisation, and acquisition of geochemical data 

• Presentation and publication of research output in peer-reviewed scientific journals, conferences and workshops

• Contribution to discussions and activities of a wider research group to integrate the research output and increase its impact 

Selection criteria


• An excellent, relevant geoscience honours degree or a geoscience MSc degree 

• A solid background in Economic Geology, Geochemistry and/or Sedimentology

• Passion for laboratory work, core sampling and fieldwork 

• Skills in data processing and interpretation, and documentation and dissemination of project results


• Enthusiastic about international collaboration and overseas travel

• Keen interest and self-motivation for solving problems

• Great communication skills working with both academia and industry partners

Further information for candidates:

This is a fully-funded Ph.D scholarship by the Science Foundation Ireland Pathway Programme. The scholarship is for 4 years covering all university tuition fees, an annual tax-free stipend of €18,500, and a project-specific research grant covering research expenses and conferences. 

The project has an envisioned start date of 1st September 2022.

Please e-mail a CV (max. 2 pages) and a cover letter (max. 1 page) outlining your experience and motivation to Dr. Lingli Zhou (lingli.zhou@icrag-centre.org) by the 31st May 2022.

Geometallurgy short course

It was a really great experience of attending the Geometallurgy short course organised by CODES. I learned so much about the life cycle of ores!! It feels like a new world is opened to me 🙂

A big thanks to the course coordinators, all the lecturers and the other attendees for making the course educational and enjoyable!!

Virtual Goldschmidt 2021

A massive thank you to everyone who contributed to our Goldschmidt session 7g – Mineral-scale analysis and geochemistry in service of Economic Geology! It was really fantastic to hear about so many excellent research going on around the world during the challenging time!!

You can still visit our session by following this link: https://2021.goldschmidt.info/goldschmidt/2021/meetingapp.cgi/Symposium/171

Call for abstracts!!

This year I am honoured to have an opportunity of organising a conference session with Prof. Zhaoshan Chang and several colleagues from France for the Goldschmidt 2021 🙂

Our session 07g-Mineral-scale analysis and geochemistry in service of Economic Geology is open for abstract submission now!! We welcome all submissions that advance our understanding of ore mineral geochemistry. The abstract submission remains open from January 15 to February 26.

We are delighted to have Prof. David Cooke, the director of CODES, delivering the Keynote talk of our session. Please follow this link to read details of our session description.

The Goldschmidt 2021 will be in a hybrid format, combining an onsite meeting for delegates who can travel, with an online meeting for those who cannot. The registration system offers sufficient flexibility for delegates to switch between onsite and online participance for free until 1 June. The conference will be held from 4-9 July.

A great ending of 2020 and a fresh start to 2021!

Happy New Year!!

At the end of 2020, we had the 10th paper published in our Special Issue of Critical Metals in Minerals. It is really exciting as our Special Issue will also be edited to a reprinted book by MDPI!! Check the full collections of published papers from here: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/minerals/special_issues/CMiHO. Many thanks for the excellent work of all the authors, and the amazing support from our two other guest editors Prof. Hongrui Fan and Assoc. Prof. Thomas Ulrich!!

At the beginning of 2021, I kicked off the new academic year by attending an online workshop on Birghtspace, which was organised by UCD. The 2021 may continue to be a year of Crisis. But as the Chinese characters of Crisis (危机) indicates, every Crisis consists of a Challenge ((危) and an Opportunity (机). I look forward to a year with challenges and opportunities!