Innovation in Tailings Management: from risk to revenue
CIM Montreal 2015
Bryan Tisch (CANMET - Mining and Mineral Sciences Laboratories), Suzanne Beauchemin (CANMET - Mining and Mineral Sciences Laboratories), Joyce Clemente (CANMET - Mining and Mineral Sciences Laboratories)
Mine tailings are typically rehabilitated to resemble the original ecosystem present before mining. However, rehabilitated mine tailings may still represent a long term financial liability as a result of perpetual monitoring and maintenance costs. Research led by CanmetMINING of Natural Resources Canada and in association with industry, academic and government stakeholders has demonstrated the feasibility of using organic residuals as covers on mine tailings to support the establishment of annual and perennial crops, which are suitable for bioenergy production. This approach diverts organic residuals from landfill (a strong municipal policy across Canada) and can have positive effects on metal stability in the tailings through organic carbon addition and increased microbial activity and diversity. This process may be improved through the use of biochar, a stable and long-lived carbon source potentially derived from energy crops grown on the tailings. A summary of results, along with a discussion of the potential for revenue generation from tailings areas through agri-energy and carbon capture and storage in tailings will be presented.