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The geochemical cycle of Ni and associated elements: from laterites to phytomining and environmental impacts


September 27th 2018


Robert Moritz, Professeur, Département des Sciences de la Terre, Université de Genève


Michel Cathelineau, Professeur, Université de Lorraine, Nancy, France


Nickel is an element of increasing importance for our society. For instance when considering the transition to green energy, we must remember that there is more Ni than Li in the so-called lithium-ion batteries. This course will consider the whole geochemical cycle of nickel and associated metals using multidisciplinary approaches. It will be focused on our understanding of the nickel cycle, from the exploration of ores to processing issues and environmental impact, in other words we will look at the behaviour of the Ni and associated metals system and the lithospheric and bio-geo-chemical cycles of these metals. The course will introduce the processes of transport and entrapment of these metals in primary deposits (laterites and saprolites), and develop new concepts for the extraction of secondary reserves (soils and technosoils). New concepts of ore genesis to explain metal enrichment in saprolites and laterites will be presented, taking into account both the low-temperature 'hydrothermal' history linked to early deformational stages (syntectonic Ni and associated silicates) and the supergene processes. Mining aspects will also be considered, and Ni and the environmental impact will also be discussed. Understanding how hyper-accumulating plant species function and identifying the most suitable species for Ni phytoextraction or phytoremediation represent key steps towards optimizing their agronomical efficiency and value, and defining strategies for the development and implementation of materials for the construction of technosoils. Our current understanding of the transfer of metals from the soil ecosystems to the hydrosphere and assessing their toxicity will be presented


Département des Sciences de la Terre, Université de Genève



Deadline for registration 27.09.2018
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