Professor Ed Burton of Southern Cross Geoscience is looking at the levels of a toxic element in bushfire affected soil.
Professor Ed Burton of Southern Cross Geoscience is looking at the levels of a toxic element in bushfire affected soil.

SCU researcher hits paydirt with massive grant

PROFESSOR Ed Burton from Southern Cross University Geoscience unit in Lismore has hit paydirt after been named a 2020 Australian Research Council Future Fellow.

The honour means Professor Burton will receive a future fellowship, worth $1,048,328 over four years, to study antimony geochemistry with iron cycles in soils.

Antimony is a vital mineral resource with which society is becoming feverishly dependent on such is it's use in batteries, plastics, textiles and ammunition.

"Antimony is a critical mineral resource which plays an important and growing role in our daily lives. It is widely used in plastics, textiles, electronic and computer equipment and to harden metal alloys in batteries, bearings and ammunition," Professor Burton said.

"Surges in antimony production over recent decades and the resulting generation of antimony-bearing waste have, along with historic mining activities, led to extensive antimony release into the environment."

Prof Burton's fellowship was the only geoscience fellowship to be awarded this round and is the largest fellowship ever received by Southern Cross University.

"The Future Fellowship affirms Ed's reputation as an internationally-recognised expert on trace metal geochemistry and iron mineral dynamics in soil systems," Professor Mary Spongberg, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) at Southern Cross University said.

The research is expected to look into Australia's reserves of antimony, as well as how to safely dispose of the waste produced and whether antimony has a role in the rehabilitation of degraded landscapes.

"This project will put Australia at the leading edge of an exciting new research direction and will create a long-term legacy of national benefit," Professor Burton said.

"By providing new knowledge for environmentally-sustainable antimony mining, this project will also be of strong strategic benefit to Australia's future prosperity."


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