The valorisation of mine waste is part of LKAB’s sustainability strategy. A recent press release from LKAB announced that they are proceeding with the development of processes to recover Rare Earth Elements and phosphorus from the mining waste from the mining operations in Malmberget and Kiruna.
LKAB has had collaboration with a Ragn-Sells subsidiary, Easymining, since 2018, with the establishment of a 45 MSEK pilot plant, as posted earlier. The developments are now proceeding to the next phase, involving further partners, and leading to an investment decision for full-scale implementation for mine waste valorisation.
The process is described as involving production of a apatite concentrate by flotation of the mine waste. The concentrate is then to be processed with acid dissolution, producing phosphorus, rare earth elements and gypsum.
Luleå Technical University will be holding the annual Mineral Processing Conference in Luleå on the 4-5th February 2020. The conference covers a variety of topics within mineral processing . The preliminary programme is available here, and registrations are now open at this link.
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.
To encourage school children to consider careers in the mining industry the Swedish Association of Mines, Mineral and Metal producers has produced a magazine entitled “Stabilt” (meaning “stable”, as in long term reliability). This is available from their web page, or a copy can be downloaded here.
The Stabilt magazine includes profiles of young persons working in the mining industry, what they do and what education path they took to get there. The magazine stresses the variety of types of work – with over 250 different types of work.
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.
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.
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
Energy recovery and reduction
Processing of Industrial Wastes
Recycling of post-consumer materials
Development of geopolymers as cement alternatives.
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!.
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.
As a part of the SEESIMA workshop in Apatity a study visit was arranged to the Phosagro processing plant at Khibny – the world’s largest producer of high-grade phosphate ore (P2O5 content 39%) – phosphate rock and Russia’s only producer of nepheline concentrate.
A SEESIMA project workshop was held in Apatity, Kola Peninsula on 20th November 2019. The results from the first 10 months of the Kolarctic CBC SEESIMA project were presented and discussed. Twenty five researchers involved in the project were present at the meeting hosted by the Mining Institute of the Kola Science Centre of the Russian Academy of Science.
The meeting was opened with a presentation from Galina Nikolaeva, from the Ministry of Investment, Enterprise Development and Fisheries, Department of Industrial Development and Investment project support, Murmansk. The presentation highlighted the importance of mining to the economic and social development of North-West Russia.
The SEESIMA project results will be progressively presented here on the SEESIMA webpage.
Project activities from the first included
Literature review of energy saving technologies for dry and wet grinding and different types of stirred-media mills.
Utilisation of mining waste for production of building materials.
Improvement of process flowsheets for iron ores, including multi-stage extraction of the concentrate.
Sorption of heavy metal ions from mining waste water with organic and inorganic sorbents, and handling of spet sorption materials
Microbial reduction of sulphate in mining waste water
Extraction of Rare Earth Elements from apatite/phosphate concentrates, and from tailings, with a new technique and methods for handling radionuclides.
Preparation of functional titanium compounds from apatite-nepheline waste.
Development of a flotation technique for recovering copper and nickel from historical tailings.
Development of geotechnical barriers from mining waste materials.