Examples of how understanding biological and biogeochemical processes has assisted in optimizing operations and de-risking decision making
CIM Vancouver 2016
Ms Monique Haakensen (Contango Strategies), Ms Vanessa Friesen (Contango Strategies)
An often overlooked aspect of mining-associated processes is the biology on a microscopic scale. While small, microbes can exert massive influence (beneficial or detrimental) on a variety of chemical and geochemical processes, acting as catalysts to accelerate reactions or enable them to occur in a wider range of conditions. Additionally, microbes can impact physical processes, such as altering flows through fouling and/or corrosion. As a whole, the microbiological aspect of mining-associated processes has largely been overlooked due to a lack of tools, or lack of knowledge of the tools available. However, over the past half-decade, large advancements have been made in the development of these tools, and their applications in the mining sector. Mini case studies will be used to highlight how microbiology and genomics tools have been applied to inform decision-making processes, to de-risk new technology adoption and design, and to optimize process efficiencies at mines. Examples range from design and optimization of bioremediation processes and/or passive water treatment for closure, to treatment and prevention of fouling in operational processes.