RECYCLE: Mine water sampling is undertaken for laboratory-scale experiments, as part of Evolution Mining Mt Rawdon's new waste-water recycling initiative.
RECYCLE: Mine water sampling is undertaken for laboratory-scale experiments, as part of Evolution Mining Mt Rawdon's new waste-water recycling initiative.

Mine waste water good-as-gold

A GOLD mine near Mount Perry is doing its part for the environment thanks to the help of innovative research.

Using tiny organisms, scientists from CSIRO have successfully demonstrated the removal of contaminants from mine waste water, which means the water can be reused at the mine site or released into the environment.

Evolution Mining is looking to implement two treatment methods, Virtual Curtain and wetland filtration, at their Mt Rawdon facility.

Virtual Curtain is a synthetic clay, developed by CSIRO, that reduces the amount of contaminants in the water column and binds it tightly to the sediment, making it non-toxic.

"Prior to mine waste waters entering the constructed wetland, it will be treated by Virtual Curtain. This is to prevent the wetland from being overloaded with contaminants,” Evolution Mining Environment Advisor Graeme Esslemont said.

"A wetland would allow Evolution to safely, and cost effectively, treat water from its Mount Rawdon mine so that it is of sufficient quality to return it to the environment (via the Perry River),”

"The trick is to get a constructed wetland to function as a natural wetland to remove the contaminants.”

CSIRO and Australian Wetlands Consulting were contracted to provide specialist expertise for the project.

Batch bottles used for evaluating the efficiency of various organic substrates to promote biological sulfate reduction in mine water samples that are or are not pre-treated with Virtual Curtain.
Batch bottles used for evaluating the efficiency of various organic substrates to promote biological sulfate reduction in mine water samples that are or are not pre-treated with Virtual Curtain. CSIRO

Dr Anna Kaksonen leads the research group working in biotechnology for water quality at CSIRO.

She said the aim of their research was to help evaluate the efficiency of biotechnical and chemical treatment options for removing contaminants from mine water.

"This will help the mining company to select suitable treatment options for purifying water for reuse and mitigating undesired environmental impacts,” Dr Kaksonen said.

"This will improve the environmental sustainability of the mining industry.”

Based on the results that CSIRO produces, Australian Wetlands Consulting will consider the feasibility of converting one of the mine dams into a wetland, and will provide a concept design ahead of the 2019/2020 budget.

"If the concept proves viable and we are confident that it is environmentally safe, Evolution will progress to the feasibility stage of constructing the wetland and evaluating its performance in the field,” Mr Esslemont said.

"If successful, the feasibility study will be extended elsewhere on the mine lease during the remainder of operation and into closure, which under current schedules is 2025 unless further resources are discovered and the mine life can be extended."

The ability of natural wetlands to remove contaminants from water is well known, but only recently gained traction in the mining industry.


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