Te and Se Cycling and Supply (TeaSe)
Investigating Tellurium (Te) and Selenium (Se) cycling in magmatic environments.
Shifting away from fossil fuels towards a low-carbon society requires a more diverse range of natural resources. Tellurium and selenium are critical elements in this emerging technologies sector, as they are essential in the production of photovoltaic solar panels. Presently, these elements are available only as by-products of copper (Cu) and nickel (Ni) refining and their recovery from these ores is decreasing, leading to a supply risk that could hamper the roll-out of photovoltaic technologies. Te and Se are rare and mined only in small quantities; their location within the Earth is poorly known; and recovering them is technically and economically challenging.
We are working together with an interdisciplinary team of UK and international researchers as part of the NERC Security of Supply of Mineral Resources project. Here at Cardiff University, our team is focused on understanding the geological processes that favour the transport, concentration and precipitation of these semi-metals in magmatic systems. Without this knowledge, we cannot provide industry with information on how to locate and economically develop future Te and Se supplies.
- Developing techniques to measure Te and Se in magmatic rocks and ores.
- Identifying and quantifying the key processes that determine cycling and concentration of Se and Te in magmatic systems.
- Quantifying mineralogical to crustal scale repositories of Se and Te for example in volcanogenic massive sulphides in the Cyprus ophiolite complex and the Sudbury Igneous complex.
- Understanding the way Te and Se behave during ore processing.
- Smith, J. W. et al., 2016. The application of S isotopes and S/Se ratios in determining ore-forming processes of magmatic Ni-Cu-PGE sulfide deposits:A cautionary case study from the northern bushveld complex. Ore Geology Reviews 73 (1), pp.148-174. (10.1016/j.oregeorev.2015.10.022)
- Holwell, D. A. et al., 2015. Extreme enrichment of Se, Te, PGE and Au in Cu-sulfide microdroplets: evidence from LA-ICP-MS analysis of sulfides in the Skaergaard Intrusion, east Greenland. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 170 53. (10.1007/s00410-015-1203-y)
- Prichard, H. et al. 2013. Distribution of platinum-group elements in magmatic and altered ores in the Jinchuan intrusion, China: An example of selenium remobilization by post magmatic fluids. Mineralium Deposita 48 (6), pp.767-786. (10.1007/s00126-013-0454-7)
The project team
This research was made possible through the support of the following organisations: