The growing usage of germanium in high-tech applications such as smartphones, fibre-optic cables and photovoltaic cells, has seen a rapid increase in economic importance as well as supply security-related concerns which are reflected in its critical raw material designation internationally. World production of germanium is small and most germanium is recovered as a by-product of zinc ore (sphalerite, ZnS) processing. Along with ore processing large volumes of tailings are generated, presenting ongoing challenges as well as new potential sources for securing critical metals. This study takes the Irish Midlands, which hosts a world-class Zn-Pb district with >25 deposits/occurrences and several historic tailing sites, as a natural laboratory to investigate the primary signature of germanium in zinc sulphide (i.e., sphalerite) and the germanium deportment of secondary zinc minerals (e.g., zinc silicate and carbonate) in Zn-Pb mine tailings. Such knowledge is not only important for assessing the viability of recovering critical metals from tailings but also essential for understanding the life cycle of germanium.


Dr Lingli Zhou is an Assistant Professor at VU Amsterdam and a Research Scientist at University College Dublin. Her recent research focuses on critical metals, using mineralogy and geochemistry tools to understand the formation of critical mineral deposits and assess the potential of reusing mine tailings. She completed her Ph.Ds in Economic Geology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2014, China) and in Applied Mineralogy and Sedimentology at Aarhus University (2015, Denmark), and continued her career in geosciences as a Research Associate at Trinity College Dublin (2015-2019, Ireland). She has led projects on critical mineral deposits in Africa, Ireland and China, and is passionate about interdisciplinary research in Economic Geology.


This seminar will be held using the video conferencing software Zoom.