Sameera Mohamed, a PhD student at the University of Pretoria (UP), was recently honoured by the Geological Society of South Africa (GSSA) with the Corstorphine Medal. This medal is annually awarded for an MSc dissertation of outstanding merit, which also complies with the standards of international best practice.
Sameera graduated with an honours degree in Geology from the University of Pretoria in 2013 and then embarked on an MSc in Geology, which was awarded cum laude earlier this year.
She is currently registered for a PhD degree in the Department of Chemistry. Her research focuses on the development of cost-effective surface-engineered nano adsorbents for environmental technological applications, using Platinum Group Metal (PGM) mine tailings. The research project is jointly funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Council for Geoscience (CGS), under the Professional Development Programme.
Sameera held a two-year position as a Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) intern in the Industrial Mineralogy Section at the CGS. The research interests of the group evolved around developing industrial chemical processes for the valorisation of industrial mineral wastes (eg mine tailings and coal fly ash). She obtained the dux award during her matric year and became a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society in 2011. She was the recipient of the second prize for her oral presentation at the 20th South African Coal Science and Technology Conference in 2015. In 2016, she received a Merit Certificate for Academics on behalf of the Student Community of the University of Pretoria.
The rationale of her MSc was based on mineral beneficiation of Platinum-Group Elements' (PGE) tailings which has become a key focus area in South Africa to ensure sustainable growth of the economy beyond mining. This initiative could potentially be expanded to include associated mineral waste products which could create a suitable platform to minimise the volume of tailings stored in a tailings storage facility and reduce associated environmental impact.
The thesis was supervised by Prof Wlady Altermann (Department of Geology) and co-supervised by Dr Frederic Doucet (CGS) and Dr Liezel van der Merwe (Department of Chemistry) and is titled 'Extraction of major elements from PGE tailings in view of nanoparticle synthesis for environmental technological applications'. The MSc research project was financially supported by the NRF, CGS, GSSA and the University of Pretoria.