Joachim (Jochen) Petersen

1993-1998 PhD from the University of Cape Town, South Africa; Thesis Title: “Assessment and Modelling of Chromium Release from Minerals Processing Waste Deposits”
1990-1992 BSc (Hons) in Chemical Engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
1985-1988 Vordiplom (2nd year pass certificate) Chemical Engineering at Technische Hochschule Karlsruhe, Germany
1985 Abitur (“A-Level” High School Leaving Certificate) in Karlsruhe, Germany
2012 – present Associate Professor – Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town, South Africa2008 – 2011 Senior Lecturer – Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town, South Africa

  • 2002 – 2008 Senior Research Officer – Bioprocess Engineering Research Unit, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • research into biooxidation kinetics in heap and tank leach systems
    modelling of heap systems
  • teaching and research in general hydrometallurgy
  • 2000 – 2002 Research Associate – Biohydrometallurgy Group, Department of Metals and Materials Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • research into the thermophilic bio-leaching of chalcopyrite experimental study of the dynamics bio-heap leaching of a chalcocite ore
  • development of a computer model of heap leach processes
  • 1998 – 1999 Post-doctoral Fellow/ Research Officer – Environmental Process Engineering Group, University of Cape Town, South Africa
    • research into atmospheric oxidation of chromium in stainless steel wastes
    • research into vanadium recovery from spent catalysts
    • co-supervision of MSc students


  • Editor-in-Chief – Hydrometallurgy (since Jan 2013)
  • Chair, Western Cape Branch of the SAIMM (since Sep 2012)
  • Course convenor (since 2007), MSc in Hydrometallurgical Engineering by coursework and half thesis, delivered by Prof Nicol of Murdoch University and various UCT lecturers.
  • Member Editorial Board for Hydrometallurgy (since 2007)
  • Member SAIMM (since 2006)
  • Member International Biohydrometallurgy Symposium (since 2003)

Understanding the Factors that Drive and Limit Heap Leaching
Heap (bio)leaching is a low cost process option for the extraction of base metals from sulphide minerals (such as chalcocite, chalcopyrite, pentlandite and sphalerite) and for the oxidation of refractory gold ores. Although simple in principle – ore is stacked on a pile, solution is sprinkled from the top and the pregnant solution is collected at the base for metal extraction – the underlying sub-processes in terms of macro and micro transport, mineral kinetics and bio-dynamics are extremely complex. There is large scope for improving the rates of extraction currently experienced in heap leach operations by developing fundamental insights about the process dynamics.
Recent and on-going research is focussed on the effect of crushing method on the leaching from large particles, characterisation of solution flow through packed ore beds, development of a two-stage heap leach process to treat a complex PGM ore and the exploration of ammonia as a heap leaching lixiviant.
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