Nussir eyeing a possible start in 2020

The planned mine at Repparfjord in Finnmark is edging closer to a start, after a decade of negotiations. The mining licence was received in February 2019 from the Norwegian Ministry for Trade, Industry and Fisheries. Despite some uncertainty created by the corona-virus it is still hoped to start operations in 2020.

The planned Nussir copper mine involves two deposits – at Ulveryggen/Gumppenjunni and Steinfjellet/Nussir. (Picture from Nussir, via High North News)

Planning and financing for the start of operations was underway, but faces some uncertainty regarding the recovery of the financial markets after the corona virus. The Managing Director still hopes to see the mine operations to start in 2020, according to a recent article in High North News.

Nussir plans to extract copper, silver and gold, and also will look into the development of technologies to recover platinum, palladium and tellurium. The delays from the permitting process have allowed the adoption of new technologies, such as the electrification of the mining operations. The demand for copper has also continued to grow, such as for electric vehicles, wind turbines and other forms for renewable energy.

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

Bioprocess for reducing sulphate and nitrate in mine waste water

Forrum Recycling and Waste Solutions AB were nominated as one of three finalists for the Swedish Mining Innovation Award in 2019, for a microbiological-based wastewater treatment process for lowering the sulphate and nitrate content of mine waste water. The concept is being tested at pilot scale at LKAB Svappavaara and consists of a prefiltration stage and a free floating biobed reactor.

structures for microbes to attach to in wastewater treatment
Plastic pieces give a surface for the microbes to attach to, to prevent them being washed out with the water.

Most mines face challenges meeting discharge limits on the allowable amount of sulphates and nitrates in the mine waste water. A summary of the wastewater treatment solution developed by Fortum is presented in a Youtube video. Mine waste water treatment is a focus of work package WP5 in the SEESIMA 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.

Experimental work on sulphate reduction underway

Breakdown of sulphur-containing minerals often results in the release of sulphate (such as with acid mine drainage). One way to combat the environmental problems that this causes is to use certain types of bacteria that reduce the sulphate back to sulphur or sulphide compounds.

Sulphate reduction and metal sulphide removal experiments are going on at the University of Oulu. Sulphate reducing bacteria are cultivated in bottle scale and tested for utilization of KemiCond treated sewage sludge and succinate. At the same time synthetic mining water is treated, and iron is recovered as FeS. Furthermore, tests with other low-cost carbon sources and real mining waters, as well as reactor experiments are planned to be started in the autumn 2019.

sulphate reduction experiment over 2 weeks
Sulfate-reducing bacterial consortium cultivated in synthetic mining water at 6 °C with succinate as a carbon source.
continuous flow reactor for sulphate reduction experiments
Continuous up-flow reactor built up for biological sulfate reduction experiments

For more details, contact Hanna Virpiranta

New EU project on bioleaching

Recently a new EU innovation project was launched, with funding from EIT Raw Materials and project partners from Slovakia, Italy, Hungary, Spain, Germany, Poland, Portugal and Ireland. The project is led by Dr Darina Štyriaková, of the Faculty of Mining, Ecology, Process Control and Geotechnologies of the Technical University of Košice in Slovakia. The aim of the project is to develop biotechnologies to achieve ecological exploitation, improve the quality of local minerals and reduce the European countries’ dependence on imported minerals. More details about the project can be found here:

Visit to Bangor University, Wales, UK

In February 2019 Dr. Tiina Leiviskä and MSc. Hanna Virpiranta visited Prof. David Barrie Johnson’s group Bangor Acidophile Research Team (BART) in Bangor University, Wales, UK. Hanna stayed there for two weeks working alongside with other visiting and post-doctoral researchers of the team. She acquired a lot of knowledge of e.g. operating sulfate-reducing bioreactors, plating of anaerobic microbes, and conducting bioleaching experiments, that she can exploit in her further research.