Dr Hazel M Prichard, PhD, MBA,
Reader and Director of Exploration and Resource Geology
School of Earth and Ocean Sciences
I discovered an unusual occurrence of platinum in the Shetland Islands in 1982 which started my research on precious metals that takes me all over the world. In 2000 I gained a Royal Society Industrial Fellowship to work with companies on exploration for platinum. My aim is to understand how these valuable metals concentrate, from deep in the Earth, in geological ores and increasingly in urban waste.
I was appointed Director of the Exploration and Resources Geology degree scheme in 2004 and have built up the course from 12 students graduating in 2004 to over 130 students on the course today. This is the only undergraduate exploration degree in the UK and now attracts students who wish to enter the minerals, metals and oil industry.
At the heart of this degree I have set up a placement scheme that exposes students to the practical challenges facing the exploration industry. I have developed an extensive network of company contacts including students who did placements. I have set up over 100 placements in 6 continents and 30 countries, exploring for 17 different commodities.
My goal is to produce a team of highly educated exploration students who know how to discover minerals and resource them sustainably, so as to maintain our standard of living. We all depend on mineral resources; unless it grows, everything we manufacture comes out of the ground.
When I think about the highlights of my role there are too many to mention; like the student who identified iodine minerals in the Atacama Desert or the student who discovered gold in Queensland.
My reward is when students return from their placements full of enthusiasm for exploration geology. Getting the placement experience on the students’ CVs opens the doorway to companies and jobs. I am aware of at least 22 students who did placements who went directly into the industry and an equal number who went on to study related higher degrees. The placement numbers increase each year and the scheme is beginning to be recognised with, for example, my Cardiff Enriching Student Life award for enhancing student employability.