HALBAN Professor Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences (AGEO) at GUtech, has recently conducted a scientific workshop on mineral resources and their exploration at the University of Antananarivo/Madagascar. On a global scale, Madagascar is an important producer of nickel, cobalt, ilmenite, and zircon. “The country has significant resources of flaky graphite, chromite, bauxite, Rare Earth minerals, iron ore and the largest known reserves of sapphire. Historically, gold and mica played also an important role but both commodities are currently exploited by artisanal miners only. Minerals account for approximately 35 % of the country’s exports of 2.2 billion USD (2014 data), most of it from a world class nickel-cobalt deposit. International mining companies like Rio Tinto and Sherritt invested in the development of the mineral sector,” said Prof. Bauer. With an increasing number of international exploration companies operating in the country, the need for mineral exploration courses cannot be covered by the existing university staff. “After having given a course about basic exploration techniques, I decided to offer an exploration geochemistry workshop for the specific needs of Madagascar, based on known types of mineral resources and the specific constraints due to tropical weathering and topography in Madagascar.” He said while explaining that he has a long-lasting relationship with the Science Faculty at the University of Antananarivo that dates back to 2005 when the Department of Geosciences supported him in as leader of a BGS-USGS mapping campaign with 10 student interns. Since that time, we upheld our connections,” said Prof. Bauer. The workshop was very successful, despite the fact that English plays a minor role in Madagascar and the normal education language is French. A similar follow-up workshop is planned to be held next year.
This summer, Prof. Bauer also supervised the start of a joint PhD project, between GUtech and the University in Northern Madagascar. The researchers started a petrological study in the North of Madagascar. Research samples are handled and processed at GUtech’s AGEO lab and the analyses are carried out at Lisboa University in Portugal.
© Text and Photo: GUtech/Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer and Dr. Manuela Gutberlet