Published

19 June 2012

MiMi - Mitigating the environmental impact of mining waste

WHAT IS THE CHALLENGE?

The leaching of metals from mining waste, especially from sulphide ore mines, has a negative impact on the environment. If this weathering continues, it will increase the risk of emissions of acidic, metal-containing leachates from stored mining waste. This is a question of more than 600 million tonnes of waste, so measures to prevent or at least considerably reduce leaching must be effective, both from a cost and an environmental point of view. The risk of environmental impact from the heavy metals in the waste will remain for a long time, perhaps thousands of years. Long-term and stable measures are therefore necessary.

HOW CAN THE PROGRAMME CONTRIBUTE TO A SOLUTION?

The future competitiveness of the Swedish mining industry will be determined to a great extent by the ability to effectively take care of the problems of leaching from stored mining waste into the surrounding soil and water. Robust, effective and predictable measures to minimise leaching over a long period of time are being developed within the programme. The aim of the MiMi programme is to survey the mining waste processes that may be affected over a long period of time and, based on the knowledge acquired, develop new and improved treatment methods. The idea is that methods should be available to assess any possible environmental impact even in conjunction with prospecting for a new mine. In this way, it will be possible to implement measures from the outset to minimise the environmental impact of mining operations, based on the knowledge of the mineralogical and chemical composition of the ore and the surrounding rock. The MiMi programme should also develop methods for the after-treatment of existing waste.

WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THE RESULTS?

The mining industry. The municipalities where the mines are or previously have been located. Central, regional and local authorities responsible for planning and water issues. Environmental authorities.

FACTS

Programme period:
1997-2004

Funding:
Mistra SEK 78 million. In addition, support has been received from the business sector.

Main contractor:
Luleå University of Technology

Programme director:
Lars Olof Höglund, MSc., Kemakta Konsult AB

Executive committee chairman:
Sten Bjurström, Director, Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB

Programme administrator at Mistra:
Britt Marie Bertilsson

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