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(Kitco News) – Recent breakthroughs in technology could potentially allow the mining sector to use nature as a way to process their ore and reduce the risks of tailing.
In an interview with Kitco Mining, on the sideline of the 2023 CIM convention and expo, Stewart Muir, co-founder of Tersa Earth, said that the company is developing field trials to use micro-organisms to extract metals from tailing and waste rock produced from mining operations.
Muir noted that they are looking to prove their technology with existing operations; however, the company’s goal is to implement this technology at the construction stage, making the need for tailing obsolete.
“The north star of this over the long term, which could be many decades into the future, is that we don’t want to be creating these vast reservoirs of water that are there forever that create engineering problems, that create risks for human populations that are environmental hazards in general,” Muir said.
While using microorganisms in the mining sector is relatively new, Muir noted that this technology is already being used in the oil and gas industry. The technology was developed by Dr. Vikram Tadav, one of Canada’s leading experts on synthetic biology and industrial biotechnology, and an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia.
Muir said that the mining sector needs to embrace technology and innovation in ore processing if the industry is going to meet the growing consumer demand.
“There’s a very appealing story in saying we have a natural process that works. It’s low energy; it’s decarbonized. It’s cleaning up the water in a natural way. It’s also delivering value for the things that people need,” he said.
Not only would microorganism-led production improve environmental standards in the mining industry, but Muir said that with no tailing, it should be easier to bring a project to production.
Another benefit Muir highlighted was increased revenues by treating tailings. He said that according to the Geological Survey of Canada, there’s $10 billion a year worth of resources in tailings.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.
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