Mining by-products could treat wastewater: CSIRO

Mineral-rich mining by-products could treat wastewater according to new research by the CSIRO. The research was commissioned by the Western Australia Water Foundation to look at productive uses for industry and farming by-products. It offers exciting recycling possibilities for a range of mineral-based materials which must otherwise be stockpiled and discarded. Today we look at this latest research and its potential applications – another step in the green revolution gradually taking place in the mining sector.

Mining by-products could provide a cheap, environmental option for treating wastewater, according to new research by the CSIRO.

The Australian scientific research organisation partnered with the Western Australia Water Foundation to investigate this emerging recycling initiative. It identified a suite of mineral-based by-products suitable for purifying wastewaters and managing acquifer recharge.

Project leader Dr Grant Douglas said the abundant by-products generated by mining, industry or mineral processing offered a low-cost solution to treating water while helping the mining industry to reduce its environmental footprint.

“The large unexploited by-products we generate in Western Australia (particularly in areas such as south west Western Australia and the adjuacent Yilgarn region) could be developed as ‘designer’ contaminant absorbents”.

Dr Douglas said that as part of the research a range of by-products were identified and tested. These included neutralised used acid (NUA) produced by the heavy mineral processing industry, red mud and sand from the alumina refining industry, activated carvon, calcined magnesia, attapulgite, zeolite, fly ash, laterite, groundwater treatment residues, carbonate minerals and a range of rocks common in south-west Western Australia.

He said while the potential for wastewater treatment was the major outcome of the research, some solid by-product materials had been identified for potential use in enriching soils for rural and urban application.

The mining sector has been developing best environmental practice principles since the 1990s to minimise environmental degradation. These principles address issues including by-product waste, air emissions, noise and dust control, land rehabilitation, contamination, auditing, water management, hazardous materials management, storage and disposal.

Leading Australian environmental cleaning products company Envirosafe Solutions has been supporting sustainable practice by supplying industry with its comprehensive range of eco-friendly industrial liquids.

Company director Murray Simon has welcome the new CSIRO research, which he said offered the potential for sustainable management of mining by-products. “Green technology allows mining companies and heavy industry to drastically cut down their environmental footprint, while at the same time boosting their credentials as modern and responsible business operators.”

Envirosafe Solutions mining and heavy industry environmental cleaning products are engineered in Australia, fully biodegradable and extremely effective. Its Extreme Green range includes unique Soil Wetta-Dust Suppresser, a non-toxic solution to dust control on mining sites.

A powerful alternative to traditional solvent-based cleaners can be found in the Extreme Green Heavy Duty Alkaline Cleaner/Degreaser. This solvent-free degreaser easily removes tough deposits on heavily soiled hard surfaces without petro solvents or harsh acids.

New research into recycling mineral-based waste products has benefits for the mining sector and the environment. For more information on improving the environment through eco-friendly industrial liquids contact Envirosafe Solutions on 1300 88 90 70 or email