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Industry and Science work together for a better future

Industry and Science work together for a better future

Date Published: 22-Oct-18

Some of Western Australia’s biggest miners gathered at ChemCentre today as part of an important scientific study that promises to bring greater certainty to industry and government in whole-of-life mine planning.
The Mine Pit Lakes – their Characterisation and Assessment for In-Situ Metal Recovery Opportunities and Cost-Effective Environmental Management study is a two-year project led by ChemCentre in collaboration with CSIRO, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER).

Project Leader, ChemCentre’s Dr Silvia Black said the collection of ‘real-world’ data from ‘in the field’ WA pit lakes and pit voids that are likely to become pit lakes after mining ceases, is crucial to the study.

“The pit that remains once mining ceases often fills with water, either from natural seepage or rainfall. There is potential for metals from the walls and floors of the pit to leach into the water.”

“If a pit lake is forming, contaminants could potentially impact wildlife, food chain or groundwater supplies.

“Correctly managed, these lakes could have potential for other uses if the long-term environmental impacts on water quality are well informed.”

Miners attending today’s workshop will participate in the sampling and collection of data from their mine pit lakes. The scientific data obtained on contemporary mine pit lakes (as a function of: variable age, location and different geological and hydro-geological settings, different associated host rock lithologies, different environmental conditions) can effectively provide a ‘time capsule’ picture of how future similar systems are likely to behave.

By using ‘real world’ data the project aims to better inform and validate existing predictive geochemical models, which can be used by government and industry, to enable confident predictions to be made decades into the future.

“Early risk identification and better informed environmental impact assessments, operations, mining plans and waste rock management will reduce associated whole of life mining operational costs and increase economic benefits,” said Dr Black.

The project will also investigate the potential of using novel processes to recover valuable metals from pit lakes systems.

The study encompasses all mining commodities, such as coal, iron ore, precious metals and base metals.

For more information, or to discuss your interest in the study please see ChemCentre’s Research and Development or contact Dr Silvia Black sblack@chemcentre.wa.gov.au  or Dr Kathryn Linge klinge@chemcentre.wa.gov.au.

The one-million dollar project is funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE) and the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA).
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