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Academic & Research Staff

Dr Elaine Govender Opitz

Senior Lecturer

https://www.linkedin.com/in/elaine-opitz-7699101a/  
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0001-3085
elaine.govender@uct.ac.za
https://twitter.com/Elaine_Opitz

Biohydrometallurgy for the extraction of value from primary and secondary mineral resources and waste streams.
EU BIORECOVER: Development of an innovative sustainable strategy for selective biorecovery of critical raw materials from Primary and Secondary resources.
Sustainable mineral resource development: Impact of post-mining transformation strategies on the WEF nexus.

My main research activities focus on elucidating the fundamental mechanisms that govern mineral-microbe interactions in heap bioleaching systems. Aside from developing novel approaches to simulate these large-scale operations in the laboratory, I am focussed on developing mathematical models to describe these mineral-microbe interactions, with the aim of providing insight as to how the leaching process may be improved. I am keen to draw on this knowledge and apply it the prevention and mitigation of pollution from mine waste streams, since the same mechanisms govern acid rock drainage (ARD) generation and lead to toxic metal deportment. The knowledge gained from bioleaching of mineral sulphides is applied to the extraction of valuable metals from printed circuit and cable waste. The ewaste associated projects focus on quantifying metal leaching kinetics and modelling the performance of various reactor configurations with the aim of developing process flowsheets for the extraction and recovery of economic value from waste streams that are scalable for application in SMMEs. I am also involved in research projects that consider the social and environmental impact of mining activities in South Africa on land use and natural water resources. Specifically, the research focuses on understanding the impact of post-mining transformation strategies on the water-energy-food nexus.


Current Supervision Doctorate              2                                    
Graduated Supervision Doctorate        n/a             
Current Supervision Masters                5                                    
Graduated Supervision Masters           n/a             

In refereed Journals                               9                                    
Presented at International Conferences 8                

Professional History

2021 – present        Senior Lecturer, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town
2016 – present        Lecturer, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town
2015-2016              Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town
2001-2002              Research Assistant, Johannesburg Technology Centre, BHP Billiton

Qualifications

2015                  PhD in Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town
2009                  BSc in Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town