As part of the regular profiling of projects financed by the EU Kolarctic CBC Programme, the Kolarctic Programme webpage included an article describing results from the SEESIMA project, published on 12th February 2021. This article attempts to give a “Popular Science” summary, with a focus on the possibilities to reduce the energy consumption of processes to reduce the size of minerals.
Pictured at right is one of the grinders at the Khibny PhosAgro mineral processing plant.
See the article here, and in Russian language here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recently a new EU innovation project, ‘BioLeach’, 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.This includes the study of bioleaching. More details about the project can be found here:
In February 2019 Dr. Tiina Leiviskä and MSc. Hanna Virpiranta made a visit to Bangor University in Wales, U.K. to collaborate with Prof. David Barrie Johnson’s group: “Bangor Acidophile Research Team” (BART). 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.
The Bangor Acidophile Research Team (BART) is based in the School of Biological Sciences at Bangor University. The group performs research on microbes which inhabit extreme environments, earning them the nickname ‘extremophiles’. The research has a particular emphasis on highly acidic environments, which has relevance for the SEESIMA project for the leachate of acid mine drainage and biomining. The research work is concentrated on the following areas
commercial mineral leaching operations (‘biomining’)
acid mine drainage
acidic industrial wastewaters
The research activity focuses on the microbiology and molecular biology of these acidic environments, and the research group also develops novel bioengineering solutions for remediating acid mine drainage and industrial wastewaters.
The December 2011 issue of Scientific American listed Biomining as one of ten ‘world-changing ideas’.