Advisian selected to conduct research and development of genomic based biological treatments for Mining Wastewater Solutions


21 March 2017

Advisian, as part of a consortium, has been selected for a new $3.7 million project funded by Genome Canada for the research and development of genomic based biological treatments for Mining Wastewater Solutions.

ďOur industry faces extraordinary challenges dealing with the increasing level of complexity of both ore bodies and developing projects while also managing the growing pressures and expectations to use the most sustainable methods and processes from an economic, social and environmental perspective.

At Advisian, we think that this challenge requires leadership and innovation and this why we are so proud to participate in the Mining Wastewater Solutions initiative. Through some of its best experts and state-of-the-art analytics tools, Advisian is keen to contribute to the development of new solutions derived from advancements in biological science.Ē - Adrian Smith, Global Sector Leader, Minerals & Metals, Advisian

This collaborative industry and academic initiative, led by the University of Toronto, will conduct research and develop solutions which will create enhanced strategies within mine development and operations for managing wastewater and reducing environmental footprint.  

Advisian staff from Calgary and Toronto will participate alongside world leading specialists in environmental genomics, microbial geochemistry and biochemistry, major companies from the Canadian mining industry, as well as the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), the Ontario Mining Association (OMA) and Australiaís Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). 

This initiative is focused on management, mitigation, and reduction of sulphur compounds, or thiosalts as they are referred to in the mining industry. The management of thiosalts has challenged the mining industry for decades. Thiosalts are produced during the extraction of metals such as zinc, copper, gold and nickel. Formation and the subsequent acidification caused by thiosalts in wastewater are difficult to predict and have the potential to cause downstream contamination of rivers and streams.

While biological solutions and treatments have been widely adopted and used for over a century for wastewater treatment by municipalities and other industries, little research has been done to determine the role of sulphur loving microbes in mining wastewater. With new developments in genomics, we have the ability to identify these microbes and understand how they can be used to treat the sulphur compounds in mining wastewater using their natural processes.  This reveals where and when the sulphur loving microbes occur and how they react to heat, cold, sunlight, or other conditions. This can be applied to reduce sulphur compounds and avoid acidification.

Advisian will be undertaking the work that assists the industry in determining the value of the thiosalts problem and the benefits of potential solutions. Advisianís experience will help bring a practical approach to translating high science into corporate strategy, decision-making, policy support, and achieving tangible benefits for stakeholders. With our partners, we will create a new enhanced framework including methods and guidelines for mining industry users. This will enable the inclusion of genomic/biologically oriented Mining Wastewater Solutions (MWS) into tailings management strategy, operational planning, and day-to-day management, monitoring and reporting. 

Advisianís Decision and Risk Analysis team provides facilitated decision and risk analysis support, economic analysis, quantitative risk, and fully monetized assessment. We use advanced economic methods to ensure relevant business and sustainability objectives, stakeholder commitments, risks and opportunities are incorporated into analysis to objectively assess trade-offs. Our experience is particularly effective in assessing the potential value of emerging innovative methods and technology followed by enhanced piloting and implementation.

Advisian will contribute environmental, technical, and decision and risk analysis expertise to the project including:

Jo-Ann Anderson, Associate and Ecological Economist with Advisian  Elizabeth Haack, Senior Environmental Scientist and Geochemist with Advisian Roy Hunt, a civil and wastewater engineer, as well as the Lead for the Decision and Risk Service Line at Advisian

Jo-Ann will lead the facilitation between the project team and the projectís Industry Advisory Board, along with the development of the decision support framework. Elizabeth and Roy will participate on the projectís Industry Advisory Board to provide expertise and ensure the ongoing relevance of the project to the mining industry and end users.

The research project begins in Spring 2017 and is expected to be completed in 2020.




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