Canadian Mining Journal

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Could microbes hold the key to more environmentally friendly mines?



Bioremediation became a buzzword for the Canadian mining industry in the ’70s and ’80s. Today, researchers at the University of Toronto’s Lassonde Institute of Mining are laying the foundations for the next generation of biological strategies to treat mining wastewater. Using genomics and modelling, new biologically informed, and more sustainable and economical strategies are being developed.

“The mining industry in Canada withdraws one billion cubic meters of water every year and up until now, companies have had to rely on chemical approaches to manage their wastewaters to prevent possible environmental impacts,” says Lesley Warren, an aqueous and microbial geochemist and professor with the Lassonde Institute of Mining. “We know that bacteria are present throughout all mining water systems, but we don’t fully understand the positive or negative impacts they can have on water quality.”

By understanding how naturally occurring bacteria within these mining water systems are influencing chemical reactions, biologically-informed proactive treatment strategies can be developed – with game changing potential to prevent issues, decrease chemical loads and reduce environmental impacts.

Read the entire story at The Northern Miner.


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