Sustainable Mining through the Green Mining Initiative
To maintain it’s international leadership the Canadian mining sector has to be innovative and invest in the development of sustainable mining technologies. The Canada Mining Innovation Council (CMIC) collaborated with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to define the Green Mining Initiative (GMI) and focus its R&D activities on industry needs.. The GMI was launched in 2009 to spur innovation in the mining sector and improve its environmental performance. The initiative takes a holistic approach looking at the entire mining lifecycle, from design to closure and beyond, through four innovation and research pillars: Footprint Reduction, Innovation in Waste Management, Mine Closure and Rehabilitation, and Ecosystem Risk Management.
Progress at CANMET Mining and Mineral Sciences Laboratories (MMSL), in collaboration with our partners, has been achieved on a number of key R&D projects and new projects were launched. Examples include:
• Testing a hybrid electric-diesel loader in an underground Canadian mine.
• Pursuing the development of a unique alternative binder process for mine backfill.
• The Green Mines Green Energy Project, a demonstration initiative at five sites across Canada, investigates the feasibility of growing energy crops (e.g., canola, corn) on tailings. Monitoring for a second year on mine sites in the Sudbury area N) demonstrates the feasibility of growing biomass crops on mine tailings.
• I investments in the development of Ventilation on Demand technologies for underground mines have been made through two important demonstration projects.
• Two new projects were announced to characterise the waste and assess revegetation options for chrysotile tailings in the Thetford Mines area (Québec).
• Development of a cyanide-free gold leaching process
Moreover, to enhance the impact of the initiative and foster innovation across Canada, Natural Resources Canada has established a number of partnerships and strengthened linkages with key stakeholders. Supported by respective mines Ministers a formal Federal/Provincial/Territorial working group on the GMI ensures a coherent pan-Canadian approach for sustainable mining across Canada. The GMI also forms an integral part of CMIC’s Sustainable Mining initiative, a program to further engage industry, academia and others on the definition, prioritization and implementation of environmental and safety-related mining research.