Archive | Mining Environmental, Water Shortage and Land Reclamation/Revegetation Issues

NEWS RELEASE: Vale Canada and Terrapure win Environmental Leader Award for innovative mine rehabilitation project

Teaming up to solve a municipal and mining problem with a sustainable, cost-saving approach has earned Vale and Terrapure recognition for Project of Year

SUDBURY, ONT., May 15, 2019 – Terrapure Environmental® (Terrapure) and Vale Canada received an Environmental Leader Award for Project of the Year for their new, sustainable option for managing biosolids during winter months, when farmland application is prohibited and storage is complicated.

Instead of incinerating or landfilling nutrient-rich organics, Terrapure worked with Vale to develop a program to apply treated biosolids to its Central Tailings Area for reclamation and revegetation. It was the first project of its kind in Ontario. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: Nornickel invests $2.3 billion in cutting sulphur dioxide emissions (Tass.com – April 10, 2019)

http://tass.com/

ST. PETERSBURG, April 10. /TASS/. The Norilsk Nickel Mining and Metallurgical Company (Nornickel) plans to invest more than 150 billion rubles ($2.3 billion) in processing sulphur dioxide at its Polar Division’s facilities, the company’s Vice President Dmitry Pristanskov told the international Arctic forum on Tuesday.

“The Northern Project is absolutely non-commercial, it is a part of the national Ecology project,” the company’s representative said. “The company plans to attract more than 150 billion rubles in Russian technologies to cut sulphur dioxide emissions by 75%.”

TASS wrote earlier that under the Clear Air federal project, which is a part of the Ecology national project, Nornickel would invest in cutting emissions in Norilsk about 123 billion rubles ($1.9 billion). Continue Reading →

Canada failed at monitoring waste dumps from mining companies – by Carl Meyer (National Observer – April 2, 2019)

https://www.nationalobserver.com/

Canada’s federal environment and fisheries departments failed at monitoring unauthorized waste dumps by mining companies and did not always check if these firms were carrying out plans to save fish from lethal chemicals, Canada’s environment commissioner has found.

Julie Gelfand examined seven metal mine projects to figure out how Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) were fulfilling their duties to oversee the safe disposal and storage of the liquid sludge that comes from industrial chemicals used in mining to extract materials from crushed rock.

That process created a byproduct filled with harmful materials to fish like cyanide, zinc and selenium, which the industry calls “effluent.” Continue Reading →

EDITORIAL: Peterborough’s Innovation Cluster exemplifies ties that bind Canada, Brazil – by Examiner Staff (Peterborough Examiner – March 20, 2019)

https://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/

Water purification technology born here is used to help disaster victims

Canada has a complicated history with Brazil. Much of our shared experience is written in the language of commerce and has been controversial to the point of bitterness. But those are big-picture issues.

Scale the focus down and, as often is the case, smaller relationships create space for support and compassion. Peterborough is now part of just such a story, a reminder that people with open minds and hearts can find ways to cross international boundaries.

This story began in January when a huge tailing pond dam at Brumadinho in south-west Brazil collapsed. A torrent of mud and waste water from an iron mine swept away an entire section of rural Brumadinho, population 40,000. At least 300 people died. Continue Reading →

Sudbury Accent: Lots done, lots still to do, top biologist John Gunn (Living With Lakes Centre) says – by Donald Macdonald (Sudbury Star – January 12, 2019)

https://www.thesudburystar.com/

John Gunn is a fisheries biologist who has for the past 25 years studied the effects of acid rain, climate change, and a variety of other environmental factors on coldwater fish communities. As the director of the Living with Lakes Centre in Sudbury and Canada Research Chair in Stressed Aquatic Systems, he is now leading a team of researchers in the study of the effects of multiple stressors on Shield ecosystems.

He is also investigating the recovery processes that operate once stressors are removed. Lakes near Sudbury, are particularly important for the recovery studies. Emissions of air pollutants in this area have declined by about 90 per cent in recent decades and many aquatic systems are beginning to recover. Here, he takes time to answer The Star’s 10 questions.

Forests are often described as the lungs of the planet, and freshwater as its lifeblood. Sudbury has plenty of both, although the former was missing for quite a while. Can you talk a bit about the relationship between the two and how regreening has benefited our lakes and rivers? Continue Reading →

Explainer: SQM and Chile reach lithium deal, but Atacama water woes continue – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters U.S. – January 9, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile’s environmental regulator this week approved a $25 million compliance plan by lithium miner SQM (SQMa.SN), ending a multi-year investigation by authorities that found the Chilean miner had overdrawn lithium-rich brine from the Atacama salt flat.

The case, now resolved, raised questions about how much brine and fresh water was left beneath the Atacama, and how long it would last. Those concerns, and others, still linger. Here’s why:

WHAT IS THE SALAR DE ATACAMA?

The Salar de Atacama is a high-altitude desert basin in northern Chile that, in 2017, supplied more than one-third of the world’s lithium, a key ingredient in the batteries that power cell phones and electric vehicles. Continue Reading →

Coalition forms to reclaim abandoned coal mine lands across Appalachia and rebirth them – by Jake Flatley (West Virginia Metro News – November 14, 2018)

http://wvmetronews.com/

BOONE COUNTY, W.Va. — In an effort to clean up abandoned coal mine lands and give them new life, a coalition of groups in the Appalachian region has formed.

20 former coal sites stretching across four states were mentioned in the report authored by the Reclaiming Appalachia Coalition, “Many Voices, Many Solutions: Innovative Mine Reclamation in Central Appalachia.” A highlight in the report of the sites is a mixed agriculture and renewable energy project proposed on a former strip mine in Boone County.

“We are trying to find ways to not necessarily reinvent the wheel but take what we see as best practices in different areas that would be applicable in different sites such as abandon land mine sites,” Jacob Hannah, Conservation Coordinator with Coalfield Development Corporation, said. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Like Silicon Valley? Miners face uphill slog in drive to go digital – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.K. – October 31, 2018)

https://uk.reuters.com/

In many ways the mining industry is losing the public relations battle
against environmental activists. Many of the latter fail to distinguish
between the various types of commodities being mined, the processes
being used in extraction and the usefulness of the resource in
helping, or hindering, action against climate change.

MELBOURNE, Oct 31 (Reuters) – The mining industry wants to shed its image as a low-tech shoveller of dirt and instead be seen as a cutting edge digital-savvy employer of choice. It’s a feat that could be compared to teaching an elephant to ballet dance.

While mining companies have been quick to adopt new technologies to drive costs lower, there is an increasing recognition that the industry needs to embrace the so-called digital revolution if it is to prosper in the future.

This means moving well beyond the driverless trains and trucks that have helped Australia’s major iron ore miners cut the cost of producing a tonne of the steel-making material by about two-thirds over the past decade. Continue Reading →

Mining and the environment: the biggest conservation projects in mining – by JP Casey (Mining-Technology.com – October 29, 2018)

https://www.mining-technology.com/

As the mining industry becomes more aware of the environmental damage large-scale extractive operations can cause, many are taking steps to reduce the harmfulness of their operations.

Often, this takes the form of extensive land rehabilitation projects, where companies set out long-term plans to redevelop land after a mine has been exhausted; however, many companies have adopted a more specific approach, engaging in operations to protect individual species of wildlife native to the lands where they mine. Here are five of the biggest conservation projects in mining.

Appalachian Wildlife Center, Kentucky, US

In July this year, biologist David Ledford announced the formation of the Appalachian Wildlife Center, a non-profit organisation that aims to construct a conservation area on former mining land in the US state of Kentucky. The area will cover 12,500 acres, a third of which will consist of plains and grassland built on former mine sites. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto completing the mining ‘circle of life’ – by Jasen Lee (KSL.com – October 23, 2018)

https://www.ksl.com/

SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly 30 years ago, the first gold was mined in Barney’s Canyon near the site of the world’s largest open pit mining operation.

Since then, the mine has completed its life cycle, and Rio Tinto Kennecott is restoring the site to resemble the state nature originally intended — at a cost of over $50 million.

Located on the east slope of the Oquirrh Mountains, 5 miles north of the Bingham Canyon Mine, the Barney’s Canyon Mine operated from 1989 to 2013 and produced more than 2 million ounces of gold, according to Steve Schnoor, reclamation manager for Rio Tinto Kennecott. Toward the end of the life cycle, the company began transitioning to the reclamation process, he said, in preparation for the eventual discontinuation of active mining. Continue Reading →

Lithium miners’ dispute reveals water worries in Chile’s Atacama desert – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters U.S. – October 18, 2018)

https://graphics.reuters.com/

Earlier this year, the world’s two biggest lithium producers publicly celebrated new deals with Chile’s government that will allow them to vastly increase output of the ultralight battery metal from the Atacama, the world’s driest desert.

U.S.-based Albemarle Corp and Chile’s SQM operate just 3 miles (5 km) apart in the remote Salar, a basin in the Atacama that is home to one of the world’s richest deposits of high-grade lithium. Lithium-ion batteries are key components for most consumer electronics, from cellphones and laptops to electric cars.

In celebrating the new contracts, the two companies said they were confident they could significantly boost output without drawing more than their current quotas of lithium-rich brine, or saltwater, that has for millennia accumulated in pools beneath the Atacama. The rivals said each had all the brine they needed for current and future production. Continue Reading →

As Australia’s mining boom wanes, rehabilitation of abandoned mines offers lessons for the world – by Bianca Nogrady (Eco-Business.com – October 12, 2018)

https://www.eco-business.com/

Across the globe, countries are figuring out how to bring plants and animals back to abandoned mines. With as many as 60,000 such sites, Australia could offer important lessons.

The 1986 Australian film Crocodile Dundee brought global fame to its leading man Paul Hogan, but the real star of the show was the vast, ancient landscape of the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park.

Kakadu is the jewel in the crown of Australia’s national parks, but this unique wilderness is also home to one of the world’s largest uranium mines. The Ranger mine has been operational since 1980 but its time is drawing to a close; mining ended in 2012, and processing of the remaining stockpiled ore is expected to finish in 2020.

So what then for the mine site? It’s a question being asked with increasing urgency around Australia as the mining boom that has powered the Australian economy for nearly fifteen years wanes. There are as many as 60,000 abandoned mine sites, some in otherwise pristine ecosystems found nowhere else on earth. Continue Reading →

Leagold closing Brazil mine for two months due to drought – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – October 11, 2018)

http://www.mining.com/

Canada’s Leagold Mining (TSX:LMC) has had to temporarily shut down its Riacho dos Machados (RDM) mine in Brazil as a result of continued drought conditions in the country’s Minas Gerais State.

The Vancouver-based miner said it planned to resume operations in early December, with the commissioning of the grid powerline project.

RDM was closed in August last year and restarted, on an intermittent basis, in early November with the onset of the region’s rainy season. Continue Reading →

Chile: Questions about Water Availability could Threaten the Mining Industry – by Mervyn Piesse (Future Directions.org – October 10, 2018)

http://www.futuredirections.org.au/

South America holds two-thirds of the world’s lithium reserves and Chile alone possesses almost half of the world total. Copper is also important to the Chilean economy and accounts for almost half of its export earnings. Many large Chilean copper mines are ageing, however, and the supply of high-grade ore has diminished.

To maintain production, copper producers are increasingly forced to exploit copper sulphide deposits, using a process that is more water-intensive. The Chilean Government is also simultaneously moving to exploit the country’s vast lithium resources, which could further strain water supplies in the resource-rich, but water-poor, Salar de Atacama.

As most of Chile’s lithium is dissolved in briny water drawn from Andean salt flats, it can only be extracted through a lengthy evaporation process. Conversely, Australian lithium reserves are predominantly found in hard rocks. Australia is currently the largest world supplier, despite holding less than ten per cent of the world’s identified lithium resources. Continue Reading →

Vale celebrates completion of emissions reduction project – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – September 15, 2018)

 

https://www.thesudburystar.com/

Scientist David Pearson still has a vivid memory of a “bad air day” when he was getting out of his car at Laurentian University in the early 1970s, prior to the Inco Superstack being built.

“I ran from my car to get in the building,” he recalled, during a press conference Friday at the Vale Copper Cliff Smelting Complex. “It was not a pleasant experience.” Friday’s event marked the end of the mining company’s six-year, $1-billion Clean Atmospheric Emissions Reduction project.

It involved the construction of two new converters, which have special hoods to capture sulphur-dioxide gas, and a new wet-gas cleaning plant that captures 85 per cent of the sulphur-dioxide emissions previously emitted by the Superstack.

As well, Clean AER introduced a baghouse/fan building that acts like a giant vacuum cleaner, reducing metals particulate emissions by 40 per cent, and a pair of new 450-foot stacks that will be more efficient to operate than the Superstack. Continue Reading →