Geology of the Kainantu Cu-Au district

Geology, genesis, and exploration significance of Cu-Au veins and altered rocks in the Kainantu Cu-Au district, PNG

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement



$31,500pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

Finding and developing new copper resources is one of society's most urgent requirements if it is to achieve a rapid and effective transition to a low carbon energy future, because copper is essential for power infrastructure and modern technology. Porphyry Cu systems are the world's major source of copper, which typically occurs together with gold in porphyry and high-sulfidation style ore zones that have formed in convergent margin settings around the Pacific rim. The Kainantu Gold Mine, in Eastern Highlands province, Papua New Guinea, is a newly discovered and significant example of diverse Cu-Au mineralisation styles in a porphyry mineral system. K92 Mining owns and operates Kainantu, and in February 2022 announced a resource at the Kora deposit of 2.1 Moz at 9.2 g/t AuEq (Measured and Indicated), and 2.5 Moz at 9.5 g/t AuEq (Inferred).

This PhD study, supported by K92 Mining, will involve detailed geological characterisation aimed at aiding near-mine exploration and improving orebody knowledge at Kainantu, aiming to determine the styles of mineralisation present in the district, assist mining and development of existing Cu-Au resources, and facilitate the discovery of additional resources in the district.

The broad aims of the PhD study are as follows:

  • Improving orebody knowledge of Kainantu through detailed geological, mineralogical, and geochemical characterisation
  • Aiding near-mine exploration through application of innovative geochemical and hyperspectral exploration techniques for vectoring and fertility assessments
  • Assessing precious and deleterious element deportment through detailed geochemical and textural analyses
  • Developing new genetic and exploration models for Kainantu

The successful candidate will generate new geological, short-wave infrared (SWIR) and whole rock and mineral chemistry data to focus exploration activities in the Kainantu district so as to aid targeting of concealed porphyry and/or HS epithermal mineralisation, and to develop new genetic and exploration models for Cu-Au-(Te) mineralisation at Kainantu.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof David Cooke


The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 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)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


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

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • A BSc(hons) or MSc or equivalent in geology, geochemistry, or geophysics. Their qualification should include a research thesis component of the final year of study that counts for at least 25% of the year's assessment. Alternative pathway options are available for potential candidates with extensive industry experience
  • 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
  • BSc (Hons) or equivalent in geology, geophysics, or geochemistry, or equivalent industry experience

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Preference for a PNG national citizen
  • Fluency in Tok Pisin
  • A strong background in economic geology, mineralogy, or geochemistry
  • Experience in the mineral resource industry
  • Experience with porphyry and/or epithermal mineral systems
  • 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.

Apply now Explore other projects

Why the University of Tasmania?

Worldwide reputation for research excellence

Quality supervision and support

Tasmania offers a unique study lifestyle experience