Assessing the environmental impact of using industrial waste-derived materials and by-products

Large volumes of by-products are produced by mineral proessing and related industries in Western Australia every year. These materials could represent valuable commodities for construction, landfill and related purposes, but the lack of a formal regulatory process for assessing their environmental impacts prevents their commercial re-use. How do we predict the potential impact on our environment of using waste materials and by-products from industrial processes?

The Leaching Environmental Assessment Framework (LEAF) is a collection of leaching tests, data management and modelling tools developed to assess the environmental impact of using waste-derived materials and by-products. The LEAF tools can be applied to a wide range of waste-derived materials and by-products from a range of industrial processes, including water treatment and mineral processing residues. The recent three-year project led by ChemCentre, in collaboration with the Minerals Research Institute of WA (MRIWA) and MBS Environmental has successfully tailored and validated the tests and tools, originally developed in Europe, for the Western Australian environment.

An initial database of local Western Australian soils and by-products has been developed for the LEAF modelling tool to allow robust predictions of the environmental impact of proposed or potential by-product uses.

The LEAF tools can provide greater confidence to industry, govenrment and the community regarding the environmental impacts of by-product use for specific applications in Western Australia.

This inceased confidence will support commercial use of by-product materials, creating the potential for them to become a valuable resource in the local industrial landcape.

ChemCentre capability will allow expansion of this database as other soil types and materials are tested in the future.

Access the Research findings.

The project was funded by MRIWA and Alcoa, Iluka and the Water Corporation, with the backing of the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. LEAF Services are now available for industry and government authorities.  

Read more about  LEAF Services

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Validation and standardisation of sequential leaching tests to better predict the impact of mining on ground and surface water quality



View the video for an overview of Research & Innovation being undertaken by ChemCentre in the the mining sector.

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