£2.6 million initiative to train next generation of mineral resource experts

£2.6 million initiative to train next generation of mineral resource experts

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen will play a key role in a new initiative that aims to train the next generation of mineral resource experts to help the energy transition.

Academics from across the University will form part of the new Training and Research Group for Energy Transition Mineral Resources (TARGET) along with universities, research organisations and industrial partners across the UK.

Backed by a £2.6 million funding award from The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the consortium has been created as demand for metals increases as population and energy requirements grow.

Each year, over 3 billion tonnes of metals are produced from mineral resources, and the energy transition is increasing the demand for mineral resources for use in wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles, among other technologies.

Some of these resources are considered ‘critical’ – economically important but with challenged supply chains that are vulnerable to disruption. Growing expertise in critical mineral resources will help to develop secure and sustainable supply.

Led by the University of Leicester’s Centre for Sustainable Resource Extraction, TARGET will see partners across the UK provide doctoral-level training in the full lifecycle of minerals from sector leaders. The consortium is currently recruiting its first cohort of researchers to start in October.

Dr David Cornwell, Senior Lecturer in Geophysics, is the University of Aberdeen’s TARGET Lead.

He said: “TARGET will accelerate the research and training needed for minerals industries as they develop to facilitate the energy transition.

“Our researchers in geosciences, combined with environmental, social, policy, and legal experts, will help deliver sustainable and responsible resource development techniques in collaboration with universities and institutions across the UK. PhD training will equip students for careers in academia, industry, or policy, at the forefront of mineral resources and the energy transition.”

Professor Dave Muirhead, Head of the University’s School of Geosciences, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this fantastic partnership to address some of the fundamental challenges we face through the energy transition.

“Critical mineral resources are essential, and TARGET will be a clear leader in the underpinning science to address future needs in a sustainable manner.”

Professor John Underhill. Aberdeen University’s Director for Energy Transition, added:

“It is excellent news that NERC has awarded one of their highly competitive and prestigious Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) to an academic partnership in which the University forms a key part.

“The first projects will start in October, and those appointed to the PhDs based at the University will add value and capability to our Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Transition.

“The award of the NERC CDT is timely as it coincides with our appointment of three new Interdisciplinary Research Fellows in the University’s Centre for Energy Transition, one of whom, Dr Joe Armstrong, is dedicated to the role that critical metals and minerals will play in the renewables sector.”

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