24 April 2023 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Leonie Bolleurs
Dr Jarlen Keet is excited about the various technological advancements in the field of geology that offer many benefits to researchers like herself, given that geology is an ever-evolving field. She received her PhD in Geology at this year’s April graduation ceremonies.

Dr Jarlen Keet, Lecturer in the Department of Geology at the University of the Free State (UFS), received her PhD qualification at the April graduation ceremonies of the university.

The title of her thesis is: A multi-isotope (S-Sr-Nd) investigation of the Flatreef, Northern Limb, Bushveld Complex: Petrogenetic implications and comparison with the Merensky Reef.

I hope that with my contribution, mining and exploration companies can improve their understanding of ore formation in the Bushveld Complex and globally
Flatreef the future of platinum mining in South Africa

With her thesis, she makes a significant contribution to understanding the formation and origin of the Flatreef in the northern limb and how it relates to the Merensky and Bastard units in the remainder of the Bushveld Complex – the world’s largest repository of platinum-group elements (PGEs) – which are widely used in various industries. Primary uses of PGEs include their application in LCD screens in the electronics industry, chemotherapy drugs and pacemakers in the medical field, and the production of catalytic converters that reduce harmful emissions from vehicles. 

She used isotopic data to show that the Flatreef is a correlation of the Merensky and Bastard rock units in the Bushveld Complex. Her findings also support evidence suggesting that the Main Zone was not the source of PGEs in the Flatreef, and by extension the Merensky Reef, which goes against previous beliefs.

According to Dr Keet, the Flatreef, located south of the town Mokopane, represents the future of platinum mining in South Africa.

Importance of research on the mining industry

She believes the importance of mining PGEs in South Africa is undeniable. 

“Research on our mineral resources is therefore important to our mining industry. The better we understand our PGE deposits and how they formed, the better ore models we produce, and the more we can improve on our exploration techniques and mining methods. I hope that with my contribution, mining and exploration companies can improve their understanding of ore formation in the Bushveld Complex and globally,” says Dr Keet, who was introduced to research on the Bushveld Complex during her honours project, which focused on the Merensky Reef. “I have been hooked ever since.”

Driven to excel by her inherent desire to always be her best and motivated by gratitude, Dr Keet plans to establish herself as a young scientist in her field in the next five years by supervising MSc projects and publishing more articles.

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