Posted on 02 Jul 2014
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.
CSIRO have 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.
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.
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