Project: SMART: Sustainable Metal Extraction from tailings
Since the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution, the primary mining and metal processing industry in Flanders and, in a wider context, Europe has been and still is landfilling and/or stockpiling vast quantities of metal-containing tailings. Especially the older tailing ponds and associated landfills may represent an environmental and health liability. However, the “tailings problem” can also be considered as an opportunity. By valorising its historical and fresh tailings, Flanders – and, in a broader context again, Europe – can secure an independent source of critical metals, thereby providing a more diversified and sustainable access to critical raw materials. However, traditional hydrometallurgical methods to recover metals from tailings involve the use of large quantities of concentrated acids or alkalis. Furthermore, such methods often require the re-landfilling of the residual fractions. More sustainable, comprehensive methods are required, which leach out the metals in a more eco-friendly way, while not jeopardising the valorisation solutions for the residual, mineral matrices.
This SIM-SBO project SMART, consisting of a consortium of academic and industrial partner in the Flanders region. Will aim to develop a generic toolbox for the sustainable metal extraction from both historical and fresh tailings, using combinations of advanced hydrometallurgical, solvo-metallurgical and bio-hydrometallurgical methods. The later, i.e. bio-hydrometallurgical methods will be developed as part of the wider SMART consortium at CMET, UGENT.
Profile of the candidate
We are searching for a motivated postdoc in Bio-engineering or Applied Microbiology, with an affinity for microbial biogeochemistry, geo-microbiology or bio-metallurgy. The candidate need to show this with relevant publications in top journals.
Scientific knowledge and skills
- Ability to work with pure and mixed cultures of bacteria
- Ability to work with analytics, such as ICP-MS, ICP-OES, IC, HPLC, GC
- Experience in microbial physiology and formation of secondary products is recommended
- Ability to rigorously design and perform experiments in a result-oriented and thorough manner.
- Ability to perform in-depth and critical data analysis.
- Ability to communicate through high-quality scientific channels, e.g. peer reviewed publications (A1)
- Potential to contribute to research program development.
Personal knowledge and skills
- A strong interest in inter/multi-disciplinary applied science
- Excellent interpersonal skills to work effectively with team members from different backgrounds and with different tasks.
- Excellent skills for time and budget management and the ability to meet objectives within strictly set deadlines.
- Good oral and written communication skills in English are strictly required (C1 level).
- Demonstrated ability to work efficiently and with minimum supervision.
- Outcome focused, hands-on mentality.
- Willingness to travel internationally for project meetings and conferences.