By Emily Lehmann
Mining is a big player in our economy so it’s important we use the most innovative and sustainable practices where possible. This is where we come in.
We’ve created a new environmentally-friendly treatment to turn mining wastewater into rainwater at a Queensland mine site – one that can dramatically reduce sludge by up to 90 per cent.
No sludge in sight. Well, up to 90 per cent less.
Sludge is an oozy, mud-like material and is a by-product of many conventional wastewater processes.
In large volumes sludge is problematic because it needs to be moved and stored in pits or landfill for long-term disposal. This is timely, expensive and can impact on the environment.
As the Australian mining industry is estimated to generate hundreds of millions of tonnes of wastewater each year, reducing sludge will have huge economic and environmental benefits.
When we applied the new technology, called Virtual Curtain, at the first commercial minesite recently, the treatment effectively removed a range of metal contaminants and the equivalent of around 20 Olympic swimming pools of rainwater-quality water was safely released into the environment.
The CSIRO-developed treatment utilises hydrotalcites, which are minerals sometimes found in stomach antacids, to simultaneously trap a variety of contaminants – including arsenic, cadmium, and iron – in one step.
The Virtual Curtain treatment is more cost-effective than traditional lime-based methods used by the mining industry and reduces the steps involved.
It doesn’t require complex infrastructure or chemistry to apply it and the small amount of material that’s leftover is often high in metal value which can be re-mined to partially offset treatment costs.
The licensed technology, which can be applied to a range of industrial applications, is available through Australian company Virtual Curtain Limited.
Hear from our expert, Dr Grant Douglas, in the video below.
For more info read the media release.
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