Characterisation of skarn-type deposits

Characterisation of skarn-type critical metal deposits for improved exploration, mining, mineral processing and waste management

Degree type


Closing date

18 July 2022



Citizenship requirement



$28,854pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

Critical metals are vital, scarce resources required for modern technology, infrastructure and the transition to a renewable energy future. In order to address global supply issues, growth in critical metal resources and advances in their extraction technologies are required. One of the most important critical metals is tungsten (W), which is ranked #4 in Geoscience Australia’s (GA) critical metals list and is classified as having ‘high criticality’. Western Tasmania has significant W resources in skarn deposits, including Dolphin (King Island), and Kara (Somerset) and other critical metals such as tin (e.g., Renison) and Ni (e.g., Avebury). Tasmania’s skarn deposits have the potential to contribute significantly to growth in critical metals inventory.
This PhD project will investigate one or more of western Tasmania’s skarn-hosted critical metal deposits. Skarn deposits are mineralogically and metallurgically complex ores, and require thorough and careful characterization for effective exploration, mining, mineral processing and waste management. The candidate will create detailed orebody knowledge that enhances critical metals exploration, mining, mineral processing and waste management by:

  • Drill-core logging and/or field mapping and sampling to document the distribution of critical metals and associated gangue minerals
  • Conducting laboratory analyses (petrography, SEM, SWIR, UV fluorescence) to constrain variability in mineralogy, grainsize and textures
  • Completing whole rock and laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) analyses to determine the deportment of critical metals and deleterious elements
  • Applying this detailed orebody knowledge to the optimization of mining, mineral processing and waste management at the study site(s), and to the development of new exploration and ore genesis models for critical metals in skarn deposits.

This project will be conducted as part of a new CODES critical metals research initiative. The candidate will work in a multidisciplinary research team and collaborate with a large industry sponsor group.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof David Cooke


The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which provides:

  • a living allowance stipend funded by Regional Research Collaboration grant of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

International applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Honours or Masters degree with a substantial geological and/or geochemical component, or equivalent
  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Proficiency in written and oral English

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • A strong background in economic geology, mineralogy, geochemistry and/or geometallurgy
  • Successful completion of BSc level undergraduate subjects in chemistry, maths and/or physics
  • Demonstrated experience in using micro-analytical techniques in research projects
  • Previous publications in international peer-reviewed literature and/or conference presentations

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Prof David Cooke to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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