Dr. Andrew Frierdich - Honours Projects

Unlocking the economic potential of high-P iron ores

Supervisors: Andrew Frierdich and Mark Pownceby (CSIRO)
Field of study: Geochemistry, Sustainable Mining, Economic Geology
Support Offered: Laboratory supplies and analytical costs
Collaborating organisation(s):

Goethite-rich iron ores containing high phosphorus (>0.07%) present serious problems to Australian producers as high-P levels incur price penalties. The P incorporation mechanism within goethite is unknown. This project will determine the mechanism and use the information to develop a novel low-cost P-extraction approach to make high-P iron ores commercial. Students will have the opportunity to characterise mineral samples and perform wet-chemistry experiments within the new Minerals, Microbes, and Solutions Laboratory. The results from this work are directly applicable to solving challenges faced in the mining industry and are also relevant for understanding the fate of phosphorus in the environment.

Industry support: Provision of samples and geochemical data

For further information contact Andrew Frierdich

Scandium: A key element in tackling climate change. But, where do we find it?

Supervisors: Andrew Frierdich and Reid Keays
Field of Study: Economic Geology, Geochemistry
Support offered: All analytical & thesis-preparation costs
Collaborating Organization: Platina Resources

Scandium (Sc) is a metal of the 21st century! It is critical for ultra-strong yet light alloys and is an essential component in solid oxide fuel cells for green energy. Unfortunately, Sc is exceptionally rare. Coupling its rarity with demand make Sc worth 7 times more than gold. Sc has recently been discovered in Australian laterites (iron oxide rich sediments) but unknown are the mechanisms that generate Sc laterite deposits. Furthermore, the recovery of Sc is challenging, expensive, and has negative environmental impacts. The aims of this project are 1) to provide insights into the geochemical processes that produce Sc enrichment in laterites and 2) develop techniques to recover Sc from laterites. Aim (1) will be achieved by using Platina’s assay data to document the vertical variations in geochemistry and by carrying out mineralogical analyses of strategic samples from the laterite profile. Aim (2) will be addressed by carrying out heating and leaching experiments to determine if it is possible to establish a more efficient and economic method of  Sc recovery from laterites

For further information, contact Andrew Frierdich or Reid Keays

Iron Mineral Transformations in Coastal Sediments

Supervisor(s): Andrew Frierdich
Field of study: Environmental Science, Geochemistry, Mineralogy
Projects available: 1
Support Offered: Equipment training, analytical costs, and fieldwork expenses
Collaborating organisation(s):

Victoria’s coastal sediments contain a wealth of iron minerals, both in terms of abundance and mineral diversity (e.g., iron sulfides, sulfates, and oxides). Jarosite, an oxidised iron sulfate, is an important transient mineral phase during biogeochemical iron and sulfur cycling and occurs at numerous outcrops along the Victorian and greater Australian coast. Biogeochemical processes that convert jarosite to more stable mineral phases have significant impacts on the surrounding environment, including soil acidity and the mobility of trace elements and contaminants. The reactivity of synthetic jarosite is well-studied but it is unclear how natural jarosite behaves during chemical weathering and redox oscillations. This project will combine field and laboratory work to constrain the chemical and mineralogical controls on the reactivity of naturally occurring jarosite. Students will have the opportunity to collect samples along the Mornington Peninsula and Cape Otway. In addition, this work will comprise wet-chemistry experiments within the new Minerals, Microbes, and Solutions Laboratory, as well as in-situ characterization of mineral products at the Australian Synchrotron and the Monash X-ray Analytical Platform. The results from this study will provide insight into the biogeochemical processes that affect the lifetime of jarosite and may be used to better understand soil acidification, contaminant mobility at sites affected by acid and metalliferous drainage, and even constrain past weathering and putative biosignatures on Mars.

For further information contact Andrew Frierdich