“The demand for minerals and elements will increase”

Our next Galym-Galam rubric guest is Nasser Madani, Assistant Professor at the School of Mining and Geosciences.  In his interview, Professor Madani explains what brought him to Kazakhstan and why the widespread fascination with electric cars is a good sign for the future of the mining industry.


Professor Madani, can you please tell us about the research you are currently involved in? Any key achievements you want to share with us?

My research area is Geostatistics and Mineral resource estimation. Simply speaking, my expertise is 3D modeling of mineral deposits. Regarding this, I have been involved in several research projects funded by the organizations such as Nazarbayev University, KATCO (French-Kazakh) Company, Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), Research & Development Engineering Center of Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), and Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation in Switzerland. Through these projects, we have developed many different algorithms/methodologies for better resource estimation that have been published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals or are under review. Besides, several software programs written in MATLAB and Python have been developed. Some of them are publically available through free websites such as GitHub.   


2) Please tell us about how your research has been integrated into industry projects?

Yes, some parts of my research have industrial application. For instance, we used a modern Geostatistical technique to estimate the iron in a coal deposit in Kazakhstan. For this, we identified the area in the mine that can provide a good quality of coal subjective to the iron content. Another research is to develop Geostatistical tools and techniques for better modeling of Roll-Front deposits in the South of Kazakhstan. The crescent shape of these types of deposits needs an advanced technique for its 3D spatial modeling.  


3) Why would you advise prospective students to apply for mining? What short-term and long-term development prospects of the mining industry do you see?

Kazakhstan is very rich in minerals and elements, and so many of them have not yet been discovered. Lack of enough national expertise led to hiring many foreign mining engineers in this sector. Mining companies in Kazakhstan really need more knowledgeable mining engineers who can significantly contribute to the development of the country. I can give you one very simple example about the future of Mining Engineering. For this, let’s have a look at the development of electric cars such as Tesla. Simple statistics predict that all the cars in Europe will be switched to electric by 2025, for which they might not need gasoline anymore. In fact, electric cars work with batteries made of Lithium and Chromium. By increasing the popularity of electric cars, the demand for Lithium and Chromium will increase. This means that we need to find more deposits and mines of Lithium and Chromium. This simple example can be generalized to other industries, as the demand for minerals and elements will increase, and we will have to be looking for new mines and deposits. 


4) Why did you decide to join NU?

First of all, the School of Mining and Geoscience in NU is very young. At the time that I joined NU, Dr. Erkan Topal was the Dean of School. He is a reputed person in the world of the Mining industry and academia. Once I saw his name on the website, I was glad to know that he was working here. Besides, I found out that Kazakhstan is a very attentive country when it comes to developing new technologies and educating knowledgeable youths by establishing such universities like NU. All of these aspects helped me to decide to move to Kazakhstan.