The carbon neutral mine is on the horizon. That’s the aim of a collaborative program to test immobilizing carbon dioxide in mine tailings. Lab scale tests are promising, and now the research is moving into the field.
The technology could reduce – if not eliminate – greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at mines and result in the world’s first carbon neutral mining operation.
The research is headed by the University of British Columbia, the University of Alberta, Trent University, and Institut national de la recherches scientifique. The program is financially supported by Geoscience BC, Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program, De Beers Group, FPX Nickel, Giga Metals, and the governments of British Columbia, Yukon and Northwest Territories.
The newly funded research follows more than 10 years of study to maximize the natural reaction between carbon dioxide and magnesium silicate in mine tailings. The CO2 reacts with the silicate on the surface of the tails, binding the carbon dioxide in a benign, solid material. The stable material would remain in place and unchanged for potentially thousands of years.
Field trials are to be undertaken at two Canadian mine sites – the Gahcho Kue diamond mine in NWT and the Decar nickel-iron project in BC.
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