SoS RARE at the International Geological Congress, Cape Town

Visiting UCT labs, with Jochen Petersen. Photo Copyright Kathryn Goodenough
SoS RARE team at the top of Table Mountain. Photo Copyright Kathryn Goodenough

Between the 27th August and the 3rd September, Eva Marquis, Kathryn Goodenough and myself (Sam Broom-Fendley) represented SoSRare at the 35th International Geological Congress (IGC). Over 5000 geoscientists descend on Cape Town for this meeting, which occurs every four years and showcases the full gamut of geoscience research. Owing to its location in mineral-rich South Africa, this year there was a heavy focus on mineral deposits.

Kathryn and myself presented in a session on critical metal ore deposits, convened by Gus Gunn (BGS), Hannah Hughes (University of the Witswatersrand), Paul Nex (Wits), and Kathryn. Despite some technical issues, the session was well attended and, thanks to a speaker not arriving, we were also able to have a stimulating 15 minute discussion on metal criticality, hosted by Gus.

Kathryn presented new ideas on REE metallogenic belts in Africa, building upon previously published work on similar ideas in Europe. The talk was enjoyed by the audience, many of whom are likely to become co-authors on the subsequent study owing to their vast combined experience of African REE deposits. I presented recently published (and in-prep) work considering the different possible sources of REE mineralising fluids in carbonatites.

In addition to the session on critical metals, there were a several other talks of interest to the group. These included a discussion by Jock Harmer on REE deposits in Southern Africa, several talks on REE deposits linked to phosphorite deposits, discussions on the genesis of the Pilanesberg intrusion, and overviews on the mineral endowment of arctic countries. Thomas Graedel provided a stimulating plenary talk on the key areas where cooperation is needed between countries to quantify material flows, from mining to end-use.

SoS Rare delegates took time on the Friday afternoon to visit Jochen Petersen's lab at the University of Cape Town. A student of Jochen's, Cody, is working on processing ion-adsorption deposits from the Tantalus deposit in Madagascar. This proved to be an ideal opportunity to discuss further sampling. Jochen kindly showed the SoS Rare team around the UCT labs, including their automated mineralogy facilities.

Lastly, it would have been difficult to visit Cape Town and not climb Table Mountain. An ideal 'team building' exercise!

Sam Broom-Fendley, 9 September 2016


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