Canadian Mining Journal

News

COPPER: Better water quality through genomics

YUKON – Western Copper and Gold. of Vancouver is moving its Casino gold-copper project 300 km northwest of Whitehorse toward production in the next five years, and among the many questions yet to be answered is finding the most efficient...



YUKON – Western Copper and Gold. of Vancouver is moving its Casino gold-copper project 300 km northwest of Whitehorse toward production in the next five years, and among the many questions yet to be answered is finding the most efficient and economical wastewater treatment method.

Part of the answer to that question may come from a novel research project funded in part by Genome BC, a central clearinghouse for life sciences on Canada’s west coast.

Environmental analysis at the project near an area of Casino Creek discovered that copper concentrations in the water upstream from the mineralized area are higher that those downstream. And the level is lower than can be accounted for by dilution of the stream.

Genomics is the tool that will unlock the secrets of the local biological system, perhaps leading to a new, cost effective metals removal system that might find application in many mining projects.

Aquatic ecologists from Palmer Environmental Consulting Group (PECG) and a professor of aquatic toxicology at Simon Fraser University are examining the possibility that a local community of microbes is responsible for reducing the copper content of the creek. So far the data indicates that there are some organisms linked to copper reduction.

The possibility exists that this natural process could be used at Casino in a passive water treatment system.

Visit GenomeBC.ca to learn more about the potential of genomics in the mining industry.