Mining innovation CEO proposes $17.3-million biotechnology centre to advance environmentally sustainable mining
One of the mining industry’s biggest financial and environmental liabilities can be turned into a huge resource opportunity, said Sudbury environmental microbiologist Nadia Mykytczuk.
Canada’s mining sector generates more than 650 million tonnes of tailings every year from its 200 operations and spends over $10 billion for the ongoing treatment of this waste, not to mention about 10,000 abandoned mines that’s managed by government.
“The mining industry is actually a waste management process,” said Mykytczuk, interim CEO-president of MIRARCO Mining Innovation in Sudbury. “For every tonne of metal that we are extracting and producing, we’re depositing about 20 to 200 tonnes of solid waste into these tailings.”
In Sudbury, there’s an estimated $100-billion worth of nickel, cobalt and other valuable minerals buried beneath millions of tonnes of rock at tailings sites, held by the city’s two largest mining companies, that’s ready for extraction. But it makes no economic sense to reprocess these massive volumes of rock through conventional milling to squeeze out the remaining low-grade minerals.