• Lynn Gabriel

Addressing the challenges of mine waste

Updated: Jan 20

A new research group at The University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute has developed a set of geometallurgical toolkits to improve the management of waste in the mining industry.

The Mine Waste Transformation through Characterisation (MIWATCH) Group based at SMI’s WH Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre uses chemical, mineralogical, mineral chemistry, physical, and metallurgical testing tools to determine the properties of mine waste and assess how it should be best managed to reduce environmental risks.

Group leader Dr Anita Parbhakar-Fox said the group has developed integrated toolkits for use at the start of a mining project and also where mine waste already exists.

“The difference with this research is that for new mining projects we are able to understand the geoenvironmental anatomy of a future deposit in more detail using a combination of established industry tools and new technologies,” Dr Parbhakar-Fox said.

“For existing waste, our approach enables us to identify reuse options based on measured waste properties, for example the extraction of critical metals for new technologies.

“We seek to fundamentally understand the mineralogical properties and evaluate the heterogeneity of the existing or future waste.

“Through this process we can deliver to industry new information to help them reduce future environmental liabilities and transform mine waste into something usable.”

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