Elliott Skierszkan

PhD student
University of British Columbia

I had the pleasure of participating in the MAGNET program as a trainee for almost the entire duration of my PhD studies at UBC. My thesis focussed on the fate of potentially toxic metals in mine waste.  Water can become contaminated by metals as it percolates through mine waste rock and tailings dumps, which poses risks for ecological and human health if left unmanaged. My dissertation investigated chemical reactions that control the transport of two metals—molybdenum and zinc—in mine waste. This work involved application of number of geochemical techniques, with a particular focus on using stable-isotope analyses of molybdenum and zinc. I was fortunate to have access to the excellent analytical facilities available through the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at UBC, including the Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research, where I conducted cutting-edge laboratory analyses for my study. Additional advanced mineralogical analyses were conducted though collaboration with the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan.

As part of the MAGNET internship program, I worked extensively with Lorax Environmental Services to apply my research at a mine site for which Lorax has provided environmental consultation. My thesis also benefited from partnership with the Antamina mine, Peru, where a large-scale waste-rock geochemistry and hydrology study took place in conjunction with several academic and industrial partners. I was fortunate to have excellent industrial partnerships to motivate the application of my research. In addition, the MAGNET program provided me with an appreciation for some of the geological wonders of the world through our field workshops, and a network of geochemists with a wide range in specializations across the country. It was a great five years!