Mine Waste Can Store CO2, Researchers Say

These findings can help cut down on the ecological footprint of the mining industry

By on November 16th, 2012 15:19 GMT

The mining industry is presently frowned upon by conservationists and environmentalists worldwide, primarily because the working agenda of one's run-off-the-mill mine more often than not leads to significant amounts of energy being burnt.

Because of this, the mining industry is considered to be a major source of atmospheric pollution, seeing how several studies have shown that it emits whopping amounts of greenhouse gases.

Still, a team of researchers working with Carbon Management Canada now claims that there is one simple and well within reach solution to this problem.

That is collecting whatever mine waste gets left behind once the mining activities are done with, and use it to trap and store carbon dioxide.

According to the specialists who looked into this issue, mine waste rock has a natural gift when it comes to chemically fixing carbon dioxide within it.

Apparently, this is because mine waste rock is especially rich in a mineral known as magnesium silicate, which reacts with carbon dioxide and thus causes magnesium carbonate to be formed.

These researchers believe that, with the help of various scientific and technological breakthroughs, nickel, diamond, copper, chromite, platinum, palladium, talc, and asbestos mines could all be made to “suck in” roughly five to ten times more greenhouse gases than they produce when they are up and running.

Speaking about this new found purpose for mining waste, Dr. Michael Hitch made a case of how, “All of a sudden this material starts having value, and this material starts taking on a position in the company's cash flow as a byproduct.”

Furthermore, “It really kind of changes the dynamics of the mining operation.”

For the time being, Dr. Michael Hitch and his co-workers are busy trying to figure out a way to speed up the natural process that causes CO2 to become trapped in mine waste.

They hope that they will be able to run field tests in roughly 5 years from now.

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