BHP Olympic Dam - PhD Scholarship

Applications open
Open now
Applications close
31 May 2023
Payment per year
$32,500 p.a.
3.5 years
Postgraduate Research
Australian Citizens
Australian Permanent Residents
New Zealand Citizens
Permanent Humanitarian Visa Holders
International Students
Type of Scholarship
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
Students with Disabilities
Available In
Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology (SET)
Available To
Commencing Students

Cu and Zn isotope characterisation of the Olympic Dam Iron Oxide-Copper Gold deposit, South Australia


Project description:

The last decade has seen an improvement in analytical capabilities with respect to the measurement of stable metal isotopes. In mineral deposits, Cu and Zn isotopes can be applied in order to track the potential source(s) and direction of fluids in the system. Thus far, previous studies have focussed on Cu porphyry systems while IOCGs have not been the subject of a major study, probably due to their complexity, the potential for large data scatter, and likelihood of isotopic resetting during superimposed geological events. Improved precision means that we are now at a point where a spatially constrained study of a well-characterised deposit like Olympic Dam – which is one of the world’s largest sources of copper and gold – can reveal fundamental information on how metal isotopes vary across distinct zones of mineralisation and may reveal insights into the primary sources of copper mineralisation at Olympic Dam and other IOCG deposits.  The isotope data may also show whether in the future they can be used as vectoring tools.

This PhD research project will examine spatially constrained samples both across the deposit and down specific drill holes, in order to characterise the Cu and Zn stable isotopic ratios of sulphides from this world-class deposit that is one of the best characterised with respect to mineralogy and geochemistry. Sulphides from nearby sediment-hosted copper mineralisation from the Stuart Shelf cover sequence will also be examined for comparison. The isotopic data will be paired with mineralogical studies as appropriate, such as high precision trace element analyses of the sulphides to look at the overall picture of metal-carrying fluid chemistry.

Funding includes 3.5 years stipend in addition to research costs, which may cover travel to domestic or international conferences.


Essential criteria:

• Research experience as part of a Masters degree or Honours degree

• Experience in at least one aspect of geochemistry (for example in situ/microanalytical analysis, whole rock geochemical analysis, isotope geochemistry, geochronology)

• Enthusiasm and drive to complete a PhD program

• Excellent written and oral communication skills

Applicants must fulfil university eligibility criteria (e.g., English language requirements, see link below) and be accepted as a candidate for a PhD degree at the University of Adelaide.


Desired criteria:

• Experience in a clean laboratory

• Experience using mass spectrometers

• Knowledge of some aspect of mineral systems (IOCG, Porphyry, VMS, SEDEX etc)

• Evidence of collaboration with industry



The scholarship will be for 3.5 years and has a stipend of $32,500 per annum (indexed annually).



Contact Person: Dr Lucy McGee

School of Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences, University of Adelaide


Tel: (08) 83133260


Application process:

Expressions of interest should be submitted to Dr Lucy McGee ( by no later than 1 May 2023 with the name of scholarship in the subject heading. Please ensure you include all of the following documents:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Cover letter stating your motivation for applying for this PhD and information on background of relevance to the proposed research
  • Degree certificates and relevant academic transcripts, with translations of non-English documentation
  • Evidence of English language proficiency (minimum IELTS level 6)