The Economic Geology and Petrology Research Unit (EPRU) of the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg is currently one of the leading university research institutions for industry-oriented research in exploration and economic geology in Germany. The EPRU conducts for over 20 years industry-related contract research as well as fundamental research for the international and national mineral resource industry as well as German, European and non-European institutional contracting authorities. EPRUs broad expertise equally covers base metals as well as precious metals (Cu, Pb, Zn, Co, Ni and Au, Ag, Pt, Pd, Rh) and the rare earth elements in a wide range of primary and secondary deposits, as well as waste streams. EPRU has planned, coordinated and participated in various interdisciplinary projects with both national and international partners and from various funding agencies. EPRUs ore petrological and geochemical knowhow has been applied successfully not only as applied research to the industry’s needs but also to fundamental research in interdisciplinary studies with archaeologists, metallurgists and mineral processing experts.
The European Kupferschiefer mineralisation has been the subject of research for more than 100 years but is still a source of major misconceptions and misunderstandings as shown in the review of Borg et al. (2012). Many of the misunderstandings stem from the name Kupferschiefer being a “dump-term” for ores that can vary drastically in their ore-mineralogy, host rocks, stratigraphic position and gangue minerals. Any particular ore or sample thereof - either from exploration bore holes, abandoned or operating mines or mine dumps - needs tailor-made mineralogical and geochemical characterisation. Literature-based mineralogical or geochemical assumptions thus cannot form the base for any modern and reliable investigation. The necessary range of investigative “tools” has been assembled and successfully tested during a previous research project (BMBF-r2), where the results have been published by Kamradt et al. (2012). In spite of these publications, the individual nature of each ore batch to be investigated and processed within the proposed project needs to be determined in order to control and explain the bioleaching processes and the interactions between solid mineral phases, inorganic liquid agents and bio-agents.