DST-NRF SARChI Chair in Acid Mine Drainage Treatment, Tier 1
Primary discipline: Hydrogeology and Hydrogeochemistry (January 2019 - December 2023)
Professor Christian Wolkersdorfer is a mining hydrogeologist with 27 years of experience in mine water geochemistry, hydrodynamics, geothermal applications and tracer tests.
In 2014 he was provided the South African Research Chair for Acid Mine Water Treatment at Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa and he held the world’s first Industrial Research Chair for Mine Water Remediation & Management at Cape Breton University, Nova Scotia, Canada. He also is “Finish Distinguished Professor for Mine Water Management” at Lappeenranta University of Technology in Mikkeli, Finland. He has been teaching hydrogeology, mining hydrology and tracer hydrology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München und Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany and within the AEG master course of Tübingen University.
He received his PhD from Clausthal University, Germany and habilitated at Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany. He is the General Secretary of the International Mine Water Association and the Technical Editor of the journal “Mine Water and the Environment”. He has published more than 160 papers, books and book chapters in various journals and proceedings about hydrogeology, archaeology and mining related topics.
The Research chair will contribute to solving mine water related problems by conducting applied research on mine water management and treatment as well as prevention of mine water pollution. He will focus on passive treatment technologies in remote areas and active treatment where local water sources or people might be directly affected by the pollution. Key active technologies will be electrochemistry and the integration of various technologies into new water treatment methods. Another focus of research will be the understanding of the flooding process itself and stratification in flooded underground mines by means of tracer tests and optimized monitoring methods.
South Africa is facing one of the world’s largest mine water problems and if not addressed properly, the environment, heritage sites and local drinking water resources might be irreversibly affected. Though there are technologies available to purify the polluted mine water, many are comparably expensive or they are not able to cope with the potential pollution expected in the Rand or other areas in South Africa. Most stakeholders are expecting the installation of active treatment technologies, yet, there might be in-situ options that can be used as well to tackle the issues. The research aims in understanding the processes occurring, disseminating this knowledge to the public and key stakeholders and solving the most imminent cases in and around Gauteng.