Canadian Mining Journal

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WATER TREATMENT: New genomic research gets $3.7M boost


HOUSTON, Texas – The is a new collaborative industry and academic initiative, led by the University of Toronto, to conduct research and develop solutions for managing wastewater and reducing environmental footprint for mine development and operations has been given a $3.7-million boost by Genome Canada.

Advisian will participate alongside world leading specialists in environmental genomics, microbial geochemistry and biochemistry, major companies from the Canadian mining industry, as well as the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), the Ontario Mining Association (OMA) and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).

The initiative is focused on mitigation of sulphur compounds, or thiosalts. Formation and the subsequent acidification caused by thiosalts in wastewater are difficult to predict and have the potential to cause downstream contamination of rivers and streams.

While biological solutions and treatments have been widely adopted and used for over a century for wastewater treatment by municipalities and other industries, little research has been done to determine the role of sulphur loving microbes in mining wastewater. With new developments in genomics, researchers have the ability to identify these microbes and understand how they can be used to treat the sulphur compounds in mining wastewater using natural processes. This reveals where and when the sulphur loving microbes occur and how they react to heat, cold, sunlight, or other conditions. This can be applied to reduce sulphur compounds and avoid acidification.

Advisian will be undertaking the work that assists the industry in determining the value of the thiosalts problem and the benefits of potential solutions. With its partners, Advisian will create a new enhanced framework including methods and guidelines for the mining industry. This will enable the inclusion of genomic/biologically oriented mining wastewater solutions into tailings management strategy, operational planning, and day-to-day management, monitoring and reporting.

The research project begins in February 2017 and is expected to be completed in 2020.

More information can be found at GenomeCanada.ca.


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