Selenium and tellurium

This project investigates selenium (Se) and tellerium (Te) concentration by organic materials. We aim to target additional resources and develop sustainable extraction processes for these scarce semi-metallic elements.

Se and Te are usually recovered as byproducts of the chemical extraction of other metals. They are concentrated in rocks containing organic matter, including:

  • coals
  • carbon-rich shales
  • sandstones containing oil residues or coaly matter

We also know that microbial (bacterial) activity can concentrate Se/Te. 

Project aims

Using our knowledge of Se/Te concentration, we hope to predict previously unrecognised resources. We are studying metal sulphide ores formed by microbial sulphate reduction, to test the theory that these microbes could also cause Se/Te concentration. 

We will also improve our understanding of how microbes interact with Se/Te in rocks and soil, to develop a strategy for the microbial concentration of Se/Te on a valuable scale. 

The project combines interdisciplinary expertise on Se/Te from:

  • geology
  • soil science
  • chemistry
  • microbiology
Project details

University of Aberdeen
The British Geological Survey
University of Dundee

Scotgold Resources and Stantec, an international company whose portfolio includes management of metal resources.

NERC £77,614