Saturday 22 January 2011

TechClinic held to identify technologies to improve the quality of mining waste water


TechClinic held to identify technologies to improve the quality of mining waste water

A TechClinic™ was recently held in North Queensland to identify if new treatment and remediation technologies can be implemented to improve mining waste water quality. Such treatment is important to enable the treated water to be released into the environment or re-used.

Queensland’s mines and refineries utilise and discharge large volumes of water through their processes. The waste water produced from such processes is often unsuitable for reuse or release back into local waterways.

Many mining companies and refineries are currently investigating a range of different technologies to treat their waste water, reduce their environmental impact and achieve water self-sufficiency. A TechClinic™ was identified as an appropriate mechanism to help mining companies and refineries achieve this.

TechClinics™, held throughout Australia, promote the adoption of innovation and technology to solve industry wide problems and challenges. Previous TechClinic™ topic areas have included deploying energy storage devices to streamline the electricity produced from renewable sources, and identifying options to use the water that comes from coal seam gas mining.

The Townsville-based TechClinic™ was organised by the Australian Institute for Commercialisation (AIC) on behalf of the Queensland Government Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation and focused on the question “Can Queensland identify and implement new treatment technologies that improve waste water quality to a standard that enables discharge to the environment or re-use?”.

The aim of the TechClinic™ was to identify solutions through emerging technologies, and to establish collaborations between water treatment providers and waste water producers by achieving several key objectives. These were to:

  • Understand the current state of mineral processing waste water treatment options in Queensland
  • Identify opportunities for research and industry
  • Determine how to engage innovation (R&D) by industry
  • Help the research sector to understand market needs and how to direct their research
  • Encourage research – industry linkages and collaborations

A range of case study presentations, and industry and research insights were first delivered by Queensland Nickel (QNI), Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), Veolia, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and James Cook University (JCU) to the thirty TechClinic™ participants which included representatives from CSIRO, Cubic QED, Environmental & Energy Technologies, MBD Energy and Uniquest.

Through the TechClinic’s structured process, a number of issues and opportunities for the industry were then explored. The challenges were that:

  • Large volumes of mineral processing waste water are being produced every day
  • Large amounts of independent work are already being undertaken
  • Potential beneficial uses of mineral processing waste water do exist
  • Policy on treatment and disposal of mineral processing waste water is unclear
  • Mineral processing waste water is often unsuitable for environmental release
  • Waste water quality and amount varies from site-to-site

Further to capturing these issues and opportunities, potential solutions were identified and a list of needs were documented to achieve those solutions, together with actions. These actions included groups of stakeholders present coming together to collaboratively:
 

  • Investigate different options to remove specific contaminants from the mineral processing waste water
  • Consider current solutions already working in other industry sectors


John Kapeleris, Deputy CEO of the AIC and the TechClinic’s facilitator said “It is amazing to find that when a number of organisations across a defined value chain are brought together to work on a specific industry problem, then multiple solutions and collaborations emerge. It was also great to see representatives from a number of organisations pledging their support to action items with defined timelines, and committing to collaborations with other participating organisations”.

If you would like to find out more about TechClinics™ please visit www.ausicom.com/techclinics or call (07) 3853 5225 or e-mail info@ausicom.com for further information. 

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