Green gold tailings from mining

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Long regarded as an environmental problem, the waste rock from the mining might actually help the fight against planetary warming by absorbing part of the greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. Greg Dipple, professor in the Department of Earth Sciences and Ocean at the University of British Columbia, has studied the ability of these rocky residues durably trap carbon dioxide (CO2).

D'after him, this phenomenon, natural to scale of geologic time, would manifest much more quickly on the rich tailings in magnesium silicates like those from nickel mines, diamonds, beryl, platinum and those from certain mines 'gold. The mineral carbonation process enables CO2 dissolved in rain water to react with the silica at the surface of the rock. Dipple think it is possible to trap these waste all CO2 produced by the mining itself, transforming the industry into a clean industry in terms of gas issuance has serre.Alors effect of the phenomenon is very fast on some sites, it is barely noticeable to others.

The next step in the research is then to model the process and understand how to improve the rate of CO2 uptake, at a sustainable cost for the mine operators. Indeed, it appears that the efficiency of carbon dioxide absorption varies according to the means used to treat the tailings. Although initially skeptical, the mining companies are beginning to look at the issue with interest.

- UBC Public Affairs:
Sources: University of British Columbia reports, 10 / 01 / 2005
Editor: Delphine Dupre, VANCOUVER,


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