2023 RTP round - Long-term aquifer management for ore in-situ recovery using hybrid blast-hydraulic fracturing technique

Updated: 2 months ago

Status: Closed

Applications open: 8/07/2022
Applications close: 18/08/2022

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About this scholarship

Potential aquifer vulnerabilities to mining activities especially in emerging in-situ recovery (ISR) operations are a constant concern for government regulatory bodies, environmental activists, the public, mining operators, and research communities. It has a direct impact on social acceptance and long-term positive collaboration of the abovementioned stakeholders. A considerable number of studies and fascinating technologies have been developed in the past few decades to address this issue, but the majority were focused on the time that mines are operational rather than considering the closure and behind. Considering the later stages of a mine afterlife during the feasibility stage is of vital importance as some of the activities will impact the environment and especially the aquifer irreversibly. In the first stage of this project, we are trying to identify the gaps in data and techniques for mitigating these vulnerabilities. This literature review will also include investigating the type and properties of barrier agents that are compatible with aquifer and mining activity. 

The mining industry currently faces challenges including ore grade declination, incremental operating depth, backfilling, cost, and finally environmental problems like tailings. In-situ recovery (ISR) offers an alternative way to extract target minerals from the deposits without costly processing. However, when the orebody is non-permeable, applying a stimulation technique, e.g. hydraulic fracturing, is necessary to artificially create a conductive flow channel for the leaching agent, i.e. lixiviant, to reach the targeted mineral. In the second stage of this project, we will investigate a similar but hybrid blasting-hydraulic fracturing technique to engineer a barrier around the ore body. The ore body will be isolated from the over-, side-, lower-, and/or in-formation hosting the aquifer by injection of a reversible barrier blocking agent. The project is mainly experimental. 

An Internship opportunity may also be available with this project.

  • Future Students

  • Faculty of Science & Engineering
    • Science courses
    • Engineering courses
    • Western Australian School of Mines (WASM)

  • Higher Degree by Research

  • Australian Citizen
  • Australian Permanent Resident
  • New Zealand Citizen
  • Permanent Humanitarian Visa

  • Merit Based

The annual scholarship package (stipend and tuition fees) is approx. $60,000 - $70,000 p.a.


Successful HDR applicants for admission will receive a 100% fee offset for up to 4 years, stipend scholarships, valued at approx. $28,800 p.a. for up to a maximum of 3.5 years, are determined via a competitive selection process. Applicants will be notified of the scholarship outcome in November 2022. 


For detailed information, visit: Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships | Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

Scholarship Details


All applicable HDR courses

• A candidate with a good academic track record in the field of chemical looping, catalysis and electrochemistry is preferred. 
• The candidate should demonstrate proficiency in English (IELTS are required, and scores should meet minimum requirements same to the Course: Doctor of Philosophy - Chemical Engineering at Curtin University)
• The candidate who will enrol as a Full-time PhD student is preferred. 

Application process

If this project excites you, and your research skills and experience are a good fit for this specific project, you should contact the Project Lead (listed below in the enquires section) via the Expression of Interest (EOI) form.

Enrolment Requirements

Eligible to enrol in a Higher Degree by Research Course at Curtin University by March 2023


To enquire about this project opportunity that includes a scholarship application, contact the Project lead, Dr Mohammad Sarmadivaleh via the EOI form above.

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