SA ge­ol­o­gist strikes gold at science fest

CityPress - - News -

Ge­ol­o­gist Tshi­amo Le­goale ar­rived back in Johannesburg yes­ter­day af­ter be­ing named the FameLab In­ter­na­tional Cham­pion at the Chel­tenham Science Fes­ti­val in the UK on Thurs­day. FameLab was started in 2005 by the science fes­ti­val and op­er­ates in 31 coun­tries. It iden­ti­fies and en­cour­ages young sci­en­tists to share their ideas with the pub­lic and their fel­low sci­en­tists. When asked about her win, Le­goale said: “FameLab was an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity to meet sci­en­tists from other walks of life. We shared knowl­edge, we shared our back­grounds and we shared our views on top­ics that af­fect the globe in its to­tal­ity. It was amaz­ing to have in­ter­acted with ev­ery­body that I met.” Le­goale (27) works at Min­tek, South Africa’s na­tional min­eral re­search or­gan­i­sa­tion, in the small-scale min­ing and ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion di­vi­sion, where she helps lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties legally mine the dumps that dot our land­scape. “We have an es­ti­mated 17.7 mil­lion tons of gold waste. All this gold was mined out pre­vi­ously, but tiny amounts of this gold re­mains in the dumps,” said Le­goale. She is re­search­ing how to use wheat to har­vest the left­over gold. This in­no­va­tive ap­proach could be a ground­breaker as it would pro­vide so­cioe­co­nomic ben­e­fits for com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing near the dumps. Le­goale de­scribed it as a win-win sit­u­a­tion that could solve an en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lem and ben­e­fit the poor. “Win­ning it [FameLab] was a sur­prise be­cause all 31 con­tes­tants had done won­der­ful re­search. They all had re­ally good pre­sen­ta­tions. I’m very grate­ful for all the sup­port that I got from back home. So­cial-me­dia users showed me a lot of love and sup­port. When I felt un­con­fi­dent, they gave me likes and that boosted my con­fi­dence a bit,” said Le­goale. It is fit­ting that a young South African sci­en­tist should win dur­ing Youth Month and dur­ing the depart­ment of science and tech­nol­ogy’s Youth in Science and In­no­va­tion Ind­aba, which ended yes­ter­day in Pre­to­ria.

Staff re­porter –

Tshi­amo Le­goale

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