Defence of PhD thesis on wastewater treatment

A PhD study at University of Oulu has been performed by Hanna Virpiranta as part of the Kolarctic CBC SEESIMA project. The topic is “Development of biological treatment for sulfate- and metals-containing cold mining-impacted waters”. Hanna will now defend the thesis on the 24th February 2023 at the Arina auditorium (TA105), Linnanmaa, Oulu.

The PhD study developed a biological treatment process suitable for cold regions, using sulfate-reducing bacteria. The sulfate-reducing bacteria were obtained from a sediment sample from the boreal region and were adapted to the cold conditions. Initially succinate was used as the carbon source, but the use of different lower-cost carbon sources was also studied (such as sewage sludge, peat and whey), as well as synthetic and actual mine wastewaters.

After initial batch experiments the studied continued with the use of a continuous up-flow biofilm reactor, the layout of which is depicted in the diagram above (from Virpiranta et al 2022). The sulfate-reducing bacteria consortium was found to be able to grow at temperatures as low as 6 degC. At a temperature of 11,7 degC the rate of removal of sulfate was 4500 mg/( and 87% of the original sulfate was removed. The reduction of sulfate formed hydrogen sulphide that caused the precipitation of most of the metals present in the wastewater. A further application of the sulfate-reducing bacteria was also investigated for the bioregeneration of ion exchange resin used for further sulphate removal from the waterwater. In lab-scale column experiments the resin capacity was almost completely restored.

The results of this study provide valuable information about the use of biological sulfate reduction for the treatment of Mine-impacted waters in cold regions, and the combination of sulphate reduction and ion exchange as treatment methods.

Defence of Vitalis Chipakwe’s PhD thesis

Vitalis Chipakwe has been working on a PhD study partly funded by the Kolarctic CBC SEESIMA project. The topic is “Application of Chemical Additives in Mineral Beneficiation – Implications on Grinding and Flotation”. Vitalis has now prepared the thesis and will be defending the thesis on the 21st February 2023 from 1000 to 1200, at Luleå Technical University, room F1031. The defence can also be followed online on Zoom at this link.

The PhD was concerned with investigating improvements to the size reduction process of mineral processing, which consume large amounts of energy and are necessary to liberate the valuable components from the rest of the ore. The size reduction also traditionally uses large amounts of water, which then requires waste water treatment.

The initial part of Vitalis’ study was concerned with the dry grinding process, that uses less water than traditional wet grinding. Dry grinding can reduce the water consumption, but also requires more energy than wet grinding. Additives that allow a reduction of the energy consumption were investigated, including natural polymer additives as an alternative to synthetic polymers.

The study then continued by studying the effect of the additives on the downstream separation process (such as flotation), as well as the effect of the additives on the energy consumption of traditional wet grinding.

Vitalis is now working as a Development Engineer at Boliden in Skellefteå.

Nussir copper mine information meeting

Nussir A.S. is holding a public meeting (1800 – 1930 CEST 28 June 2021) to present information about the status of the process relating to the opening of the copper mine at Repparfjord in Finnmark, Northern Norway.

Due to COVID restrictions the number of places for physical attendance is limited, but the meeting is broadcast over

  • CEO Øystein Rushfeldt will give the latest update on the plans for opening the mine.
  • Project Manager Odd Henning Grove will give an update on the progress on the industrial site.
  • Anstein Amundsen will present information about the sea deposition of tailings.

European Cooperation Day in Oulu

The European Union provides financing for cross-border collaboration projects through different regional programmes, such as Kolarctic Cross-Border Cooperation, Interreg Nord and Northern Periphery and Arctic Programmes. To raise the profile of these financing programmes an Exhibition is being held in Oulu between the 21-25 September 2020. More information about the exhibition is available here.

The SEESIMA project is one of 15 EU-funded projects selected for the INNOVATION ACROSS BORDERS Exhibition to illustrate with concrete examples how working with partners in neighbouring regions benefits the research and business environment in each region, as well as it contributes to creating more sustainable communities.

The SEESIMA project is represented by Tiina Leiviskä and Hanna Virpiranta, and the poster presentations will be open for the public to view during business hours of the week 21-25 September. Later the Exhibition will be available as an online display.

International Plaksin Readings

On September 21-26 September 2020 The International Plaksin Readings will be hosted by The Federal Kola Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in Apatity, North-West Russia.

The International Plaksin Readings is one of the most significant conferences in the field of mineral processing, hydrometallurgy, and geoenvironmental engineering. Igor Plaksin is the founder of the Soviet research school in the field of mineral processing and hydrometallurgy of rare, non-ferrous, and noble metals, and a two-time winner of the USSR State Prize.

The International Plaksin Readings has been held annually since 1977 at various venues across the USSR and Russia (Apatity, Novosibirsk, Tosk, Petrozavodsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Khabarovsk, Moscow, St Petersburg, Vladivostok, etc) as well as abroad (Almaty in Kazakhstan, Tbilisi in Georgia, etc).

The 2020 International Platsin Readings is organised by Academician V.A. Chanturia, Chief Researcher at the Melnikov Institute for Integrated Development of the Mineral Resources at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Chair of the RAS Research Board for Mineral Processing.

Invitation flyer for the International Plaksin Readings 2020

Contact persons:

  • Galina Mitrofanova
  • Anastasia Yenutina
  • Anton Svetlov

More details are available in this 1st Informational letter, and at the webpage for the event.

CAMM² seminar in Luleå 21-22 April 2020

Luleå Technical University is arranging a seminar on Exploration, Mining, Mineral Processing, Metallurgy and Environment. This arrangement is part of the Centre for Advanced Mining and Metallurgy (CAMM) which was established at LTU in 2010 as a strategic research area. More details about the CAMM² Centre can be found here.

Announcement for the CAMM² seminar in Luleå 21-22 April

Sustainability and biomining in focus

The increasing focus on sustainability and environmental impact of mining activity is the basis for two Mineral Engineering conferences to be held in Falmouth, Cornwall in June 2020. These conferences, on biomining and sustainable minerals, have relevance to activities within the SEESIMA project, such as within WP4 and WP5.

Biomining ’20

The first is the Biomining ’20 conference, to be held 8-9 June 2020 in Falmouth. This is the 10th time that this conference has been arranged (after a name change from the earlier title of ‘Biohydrometallurgy’). The conference focuses on the development, optimisation and implementation of integrated biomining processing of mineral ores. This is an alternative processing route whereby the microbes are used to cause or catalyse the release of metals from the ore. This includes the microbiology of heap or tank leaching, bioflotation. This approach can be used on low grade or complex ores, or on novel resources such as mine and electronic waste, or the rehabilitation of environments damaged by mining. As such, biomining is a contributor to the sustainability of mining activity.

Biomining has achieved increased attention in recent years, and a flagship implementation is represented by the Terrafame mine in Finland. The following cartoon, taken from here) illustrates one of the main bacteria (Thiobacillus ferroxidans) used in releasing copper metal from copper ore.

biomining - a sustainable mining activity.
one view of the new workforce in biomining, (by

Sustainable Minerals ’20

The second conference is the Sustainable Minerals ’20 conference, to be held from 10-11 June 2020, also in Falmouth, Cornwall. This is being held for the 6th time, and focuses on sustainability aspects of mining. Modern society’s extensive use of metals and mineral-based materials creates a strain on sustainable use of natural resources. Hence, mining needs a focus on sustainability.

The topics of Sustainability ’20 include:

  • Acid Mine drainage
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Energy recovery and reduction
  • Industrial applications
  • Processing of Industrial Wastes
  • Recycling of post-consumer materials
  • Development of geopolymers as cement alternatives.

The Eden Project – nearby in Cornwall

A further attraction in the Cornwall area is the possibility to visit the Eden Project, nearby. This was formerly an open pit mine, extracting china clay. After the mine was closed it was transformed into one of the largest tourist attractions in the United Kingdom. The two pictures below show the ‘before’ and ‘after’ views of the site. This is a great answer as to what to do with the hole in the ground after mining has finished. A different approach to sustainability and biomining!.

Transformation of a china clay pit mine into the Eden Project tourist attraction - a good example of sustainable mining activity.
‘Before’ and ‘After’ views of the transformation of the china clay pit mine into the Eden Project.

Kirovsk Mining Museum educational resources

At the conclusion of the SEESIMA meetings in Apatity a visit was made to the JSC Apatit Museum in Kirovsk. This has impressively modern and comprehensive displays and education resources relating to the history of the region and the technologies for extraction of minerals from the local resources, in particular the operations of the JSC PhosAgro Apatit.

educational resources in Kirovsk Museum of JSC Apatit
The “Enrichment Hall” with displays of beneficiation processes (crushing, flotation and dewatering) of the PhosAgro process.

The Museum has a webpage which shows some of the content of the museum. The website also provides the possibility for taking a virtual tour of the museum.

  • Hall 1: History of the PhosAgro group
  • Hall 2: History of the JSC “Apatit” mine and processing
  • Hall 3: Display of gifts received by the enterprise
  • Hall 4: Details of the Khibiny Massif mineralogy
  • Hall 5: Mineral resources of the Kola Peninsula
  • Hall 6: Underground Mining
  • Hall 7: Open-pit Mining
  • Hall 8: Enrichment Department
  • Exhibition hall: “Everyday life and customs of the Russian Empire”
  • Clock tower: Display representing the different features of layers between the earth’s core and atmosphere.

At the time of our visit there were groups of school children and university students using the museum. It is a very useful resource for dissemination of information about the mining industry, and for highlighting for young persons the opportunities represented by the industry.

Conference on Tailings and Mine Waste

A conference on Tailings and Mine Waste was held from 17-20 November 2019 in Vancouver. The conference home page is here, which includes the list of presentations.

Presentations of particular interest for the SEESIMA project included:

  • The effect of arctic conditions on the geochemical behaviour of sulfidic tailings (Gary Schudel) – article available here
  • A new technique for measuring the reactivity of sulfidic ores and waste – infrared thermography (Marjan Knobloch)
  • Environmental assessment of residues from field multi-step passive treatment of Fe-AMD: Case study of the Lorraine mine site, QC, Canada (Marouen Joini).
  • Valorisation of phosphate mine wastes: the challenge of additional resource recovery from phosphate rock (Bernd G Lottermoser)
  • Using Algae as cheap and efficient flocculation agent to quickly obtain clear water columns at pit lakes (Miguel de Lucas Parlo)

Otherwise, there were many presentations focusing on the physical and regulatory aspects of tailings dams.

Metal leaching workshop

A seminar/workshop is to be held at Kjeøy Research and Education Centre in Vestbygd in Northern Norway. This will involve introductory presentations by specialists in the field of metal leaching from minerals, as well as time for discussion of both microbial and chemical leaching processes. Environmental aspects of natural leaching in cold climates will also be covered. Further details about the seminar, and registration information is available here.