Microalgae and the Mining Industry: A Research Review

CIM MEMO 2010
Ashley Scott, Helen Shang, Greg Ross, Bryan Salt, Mike Loken,
Abstract Microalgae and the Mining Industry: A Research
Review

L. Renaud, J.A. Scott, H. Shang, G.M. Ross, B.
Salt, M. Loken

Abstract: For generations, the mining industry has
been committed to work toward developing new
technology that can improve safety and increase
production. Now with a more environmentally
conscious society and stiffer environmental
regulations, a natural progression for the
industry is to develop “green” or environmentally
friendly technologies. Not only could this
improve the efficiency of operations, but it could
also reduce the long term footprint that is left
behind.

Algae represent a new frontier in research and
development; they could potentially benefit the
mining industry in several very important ways. As
demonstrated here, algae, or specifically
microalgae, can be used for carbon dioxide
sequestration from process off-gases; they can be
used as a tailings cover with a fertilizer-like
component; algae can be used in process wastewater
treatment and in the uptake of metals as well as
reuse of waste heat that is generated during
mining and processing. Potentially the most
controversial, algae can be used in the production
of biodiesel in order to supplement petroleum
diesel on mine sites.

By investigating the incorporation of algae
production into the mining industry, there is a
possibility of job creation in the green economy
as well as creating a positive outlook for the
sites that are no longer being utilized. These
sites could potentially have a future use after a
plant or a mine site closure, which could factor
into a closure plan before the mine or mining site
is even constructed. The potential positive
benefits of this technology in terms of
contribution to community and the environment are
a great motive for further research and
development into algal technology.
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