One Postdoctoral and 4 PhD positions on the Bushveld Complex in South Africa

We are seeking five enthusiastic and highly motivated researchers to undertake one postdoctoral and four PhD projects on various topics related to the Bushveld Complex in South Africa. Ideally, candidates should have a background in geoscience and a strong understanding of structural geology, igneous petrology, geochemistry, economic geology and/or hydrogeology. The candidates will be based in the School of Geosciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa and will join a vibrant cohort of existing MSc and PhD students and Postdoctoral Fellows as well as actively communicate with senior researchers and industry members of the multi-disciplinary research team.

The research projects will be funded through the BUGEMET (Bushveld Geology and Metallogeny) Chair that has been recently established in the School of Geosciences at the University of the Witwatersrand to advance our understanding of the geology and metallogeny of the Bushveld Complex, aimed at improving exploration, discovery, and economic extraction of its world-class mineralization. The BUGEMET Project is supported by five platinum and chromium companies (Sibanye-Stillwater, AngloPlatinum, Northam, African Rainbow Minerals, and Dwarsrivier). The BUGEMET strategic objectives encompass three key areas: conducting cutting-edge research on the Bushveld Complex, contributing to the development of qualified geoscientists, and raising public awareness about the significance of geology and mineral deposits.

The School of Geosciences at the University of the Witwatersrand is an acknowledged leader in the applied research and training of graduates for the mineral resources sector in South Africa and beyond. The School hosts petrographic and geochemical instrumentation/laboratories including: full section scanning microscopes, a Tescan automated mineral analyzer, electron probe microanalyzer, several quadrupole ICPMSs, a LA-SF-ICPMS setup dedicated to U-Pb age dating and trace element analysis, as well as Africa's only multidisciplinary isotope facility that includes an ultraclean, metal-free laboratory as well as a collision cell MC-SF-ICPMS and a thermal ionization mass spectrometer for analysis of a wide range of isotopic compositions. The School also hosts the only virtual SIMS laboratory in Africa, in collaboration with the Helmholtz GeoForschungZentrum (GFZ) in Potsdam, Germany. Along with this geochemical equipment, the School has field-based structural and geophysical equipment including magnetometers, a gravimeter, resistivity and seismic arrays, several drones, a variety of geophysical and 3D modelling software systems, mapping tablets, GPS instruments, and core-logging facilities.

Postdoctoral project 1: Footwall morphology and internal magmatic zonation of the Rustenburg Layered Suite, western Bushveld Complex

Despite being modelled as a broad lopolith, the Rustenburg Layered Suite of the Bushveld Complex displays a complex relationship with the predominantly Transvaal Supergroup lithologies in its footwall that reflects pre-, syn- and post-intrusion magmatic, thermal and structural-tectonic processes that affect, inter alia, mineralized reef continuity, geometry and grades. This project aims to utilise the wealth of open source and mining company 2-D and 3-D reflection seismic data in the Western Limb of the Bushveld Complex to investigate the morphology of the footwall contact of the RLS and to constrain the bathymetry of the principal internal zones within the RLS, towards developing an integrated magmato-tectonic model for RLS emplacement and its subsequent evolution.

Primary Supervisors: Prof. Roger Gibson, Prof. Musa Manzi, and Rais Latypov (Wits University); Industry leader: Dennis Hoffman (Northam Platinum). Application to be submitted to Roger.Gibson@wits.ac.za

PhD project 1: The effect of syn-magmatic replacive bodies (IRUPs) on platinum reefs of the Bushveld Complex

Discordant iron-rich ultramafic pegmatites, or IRUP, intersect with the platinum reefs in multiple locations within the Bushveld Complex. Field, textural and geochemical studies show that IRUP bodies originate from a high-temperature mobile melt/fluid phase that either partially or completely replaces existing cumulate rocks. Currently, there is no consensus on the nature of the IRUP-generating melts/fluids or the mechanism of host rock replacement. Additionally, there are limited constraints on the impact of IRUP on mining, metallurgy, and the recovery of platinum-group metals. This project aims to address these critical aspects of the formation of IRUP and their effects on the platinum reefs in the Bushveld Complex.

Primary Supervisor: Dr. Ben Hayes (Wits University); Industry leader: Christelle Van Der Merwe (Dwarsrivier Chromite Mine). Application to be submitted to Ben.Hayes@wits.ac.za

PhD project 2: Developing sustainable solutions for water ingress management in the Bushveld Complex: an integrated geophysical and hydrogeological approach

Most platinum mines in the Bushveld Complex experience water ingress, potentially filling open-pit or underground mines, consequently obstructing operations, and posing safety risks. Dewatering is the standard water management practice. Subsurface groundwater flow pathways, mapped using geophysical techniques, highlight the role of fractures and lineaments in water circulation. Key research questions include the interaction between surface and groundwater, hotspots of high groundwater circulation, and effective water ingress reduction strategies with minimal environmental impacts. The main aim of the research is to develop long-term, cost-effective solutions through extensive field data collection, hydrological conceptual model development, and numerical simulations, culminating in field tests to validate and optimize water management strategies. Candidates should have a strong background in geology and physical hydrogeology.

Primary Supervisor: Dr. Khuliso Masindi (Wits University); Industry leader: Nicole Wansbury (Sibanye Stillwater Platinum). Application to be submitted to Khuliso.Masindi@wits.ac.za

PhD project 3: Nature of significant spatial variations of the ratio of individual PGM's in platinum reefs of the Bushveld Complex

This research project focuses on understanding the variations of platinum group elements (PGEs) in the Bushveld Igneous Complex. By integrating mineralogy, geochemistry, data analysis and modelling we aim to evaluate the spatial distribution of PGEs across different economic reefs in various mines on the Eastern Limb. In collaboration with industry partners, we aim to deepen our understanding of the geological processes that control PGE concentration and distribution within reefs. This knowledge will contribute to more efficient and effective exploration, mining and extraction methods, ultimately enhancing the sustainability of PGE resource development.

Primary Supervisor: Dr. Leonidas Vonopartis (Wits University); Industry leader: Ruwayne Jooste (African Rainbow Minerals). Application to be submitted to Leonidas.Vonopartis@wits.ac.za

PhD project 4: The development of platinum reefs in areas where the Bushveld Complex undergoes lateral termination

Many platinum reefs of the Bushveld Complex (e.g., Merensky Reef or UG2 chromitite) are examined over lateral distances of up to 350 km, but little is known about their development in areas where the entire complex or their hosting stratigraphy are terminating (abutting) against the host rocks of the Transvaal Supergroup. This project aims at filling this gap in knowledge by examining the field, textural and chemical features of platinum reefs in the Critical Zone at the southern and northern endings of the eastern Bushveld Complex. The project will be based on surface and underground mapping, drill core documentation, and geophysical data.

Primary Supervisors: Prof. Rais Latypov (Wits University) and Prof. Jeremie Lehmann (University of Johannesburg); Industry leader: Wimpie Britz (AngloPlatinum). Application to be submitted to Rais.Latypov@wits.ac.za.

How to apply: The projects are fully funded for 2 years (postdoctoral) and 3 years (PhD) and are based full-time at the University of the Witwatersrand. Applicants must submit a single .pdf document, comprising a cover/motivation letter, certified copy of your academic transcript, a comprehensive CV (including publication list) and the names and contact details of three contactable professional referees. Applications should be emailed to primary supervisors indicated above by 12 July 2024. Indicate the project title in the subject line of the email. Shortlisted candidates will be expected to participate in a virtual interview in August/September 2024. Ideally successful applicants will be available to start in October/November 2024. We invite applications from all eligible candidates. For more information related to the positions, please contact primary supervisors via email.

Closing Date: 12 July 2024

posted: 04 June 2024     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.