Sudbury’s mine tailings worth billions – by Staff (Sudbury Star – August 1, 2017)

There is money to be made – and saved – by finding new, environmentally friendly ways to deal with mine tailings in Sudbury and across Ontario. With this in mind, the Vale Living with the Lakes Centre in Sudbury on Wednesday will welcome its academic and industry partners for a two-day Elements of Biomining (EBM) research symposium.

The national network has received $4 million in funding from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation to develop biotechnologies for mine waste stabilization, and the recovery of valuable metals like nickel, copper and zinc.

To achieve this goal, Elements of Biomining will harness the capabilities of naturally occurring microbial communities. Researchers form the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia and Laurentian University make up Elements of Biomining.

The Laurentian project lead and NOHFC Industrial Research Chair in Biomining, Bioremediation and Science Communication, Nadia Mykytczuk, will focus on one of three key themes in the network to develop in situ (meaning in place) bioleaching and bioremediation systems. These can be operated directly on tailing sites, of which there are thousands in Ontario alone.

“In fact,” conference organizers said in a release, “the value of residual nickel in Sudbury tailings amounts to $7 billion, while the cleanup cost of their associated acid mine drainage, is an estimated $2 billion-$5 billion.

“There is significant economic interest, therefore, to use the ecofriendly processes being developed by EBM for remediation and base metal extraction. “

Over the two days of the symposium, the network students and scientists (including project lead Vlad Papangelakis, and theme leader Elizabeth Edwards), will present to representatives from Vale, Glencore, Hatch, Environmental Resources Management, and the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation. They will also discuss research priorities, plan related work, and visit research sites.

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