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Water Management Equipment (4 replies)

9 months ago
Sturmbann 9 months ago

Any suggestions on lab equipment / infrastructure to support a mine closure teaching, mine water management, at a mine engineering educational institute?

I am a member of the SENA Educational Institute in Colombia, South America. Currently we are planning to form a program to teach students to address mine water management, mine closure, and other intricate issues of the mining industry. We received funding from the Colombian government and we want to invest heavily in infrastructure that could help us achieve our goal of producing well rounded technicians who could support the mining industry with responsible mining.

I appreciate if any of you could share any information and suggestions about what type of infrastructure we would need in our labs, which could be used by relatively advanced students in mine engineering. 

David Kano
9 months ago
David Kano 9 months ago

Do you have a mineral processing department? Mass-balance and metallurgical accounting courses related to mineral processing would be a good primer for water balance management and load calculations as well as creating a better understanding of the processes and infrastructure that lead up to water balance management at a closed facility.

Once there is an understanding there, the student should be able to easily apply the same principles to any water balance challenge.

The second would be to visit locations with specific problems and discuss with the location managers how the problems may have been prevented or how they are being addressed.

Mine closure is a holistic and site-specific process; stressing the need to tailor-fit solutions to site-specific problems, also utilizing location-specific opportunities to address these problems is very important.

Sugar Watkins
9 months ago
Sugar Watkins 9 months ago

In addition to the good suggestion the mineral-processing, there are great synergies with geology and environmental chemistry (or even more narrowly, geochemistry). Two suggestions:

  • Introduce yourself and your program to Professor Dirk van Zyl at University of British Columbia. Your overall task is very close to his central area of research and practice. In addition, Dirk has wonderful contacts with industry and governments, and he works often in Latin America.
  • Organize some active engagement by some of the major mining companies in Colombia. Perhaps your Institute already is working on this.

It is very much in their interests to support the training of new scientists and engineers who are well versed in such matters (and the basic science and engineering that lies behind the mining applications). Unless I have entirely lost the plot, AngloGold Ashanti continue with their gold project at La Colosa, and XStrata continue their involvement with coal mining in Colombia. Not only may they, and other mining companies, be interested in strategic cooperation with your Institute, but the operating mines may have training positions for students through cooperative educational programs with the universities - this is very common in many countries.

9 months ago
Sturmbann 9 months ago

Thanks for your bright input. Our institute is surrounding by low technology artisan small scale mining operations, which are in a path of modernization. Here at SENA we are also creating short courses addressing the issues mentioned before. In general, most mining technical institutes in Colombia lack these types of programs, given that most education has been geared towards production and safety.

It would be an honor to have your expertise and opinion so that we can develop good programs at our technical institute.

Zander Barcalow
9 months ago
Zander Barcalow 9 months ago

Your educational goals are admirable; I am quite envious. The Colombian government too should be applauded for its willingness to fund your group. As a passive treatment design engineer, I would recommend that your program infrastructure include the following (which are mostly, low-tech, relatively inexpensive, and whose test results could benefit the artisanal miners):

A greenhouse or similar structure to construct small-scale passive treatment systems that can be closely monitored and studied. I don't think such a facility exists even in universities in the USA (I'm sure my fellow group members will be quick to correct me if I am wrong). The closest that anyone has come to this was Dr. Tom Wildeman at the Colorado School of Mines when he conducted some manganese removal experiments in kiddie swimming pools on the roof of the CSM chemistry building in the mid-1990's. This structure should be climate controlled to avoid bias from the weather on controlled experiments. Portions may need to be on a separate ventilation system in case some experiments (such as biochemical reactors or BCRs) can create hazardous gases (e.g., H2S).

A portion of the greenhouse and educational program should be dedicated to the beneficial use of materials generated with passive treatment techniques. For example, iron oxy-hydroxide can be used in manufacturing paint pigment and has been found to sequester arsenic. Manganese oxides are also potential materials with beneficial uses.

A series of corrosion-resistant columns (1 m in diameter?) that can be filled with acid-generating waste rock or tailings samples from a specific mine site (or similar site). These columns could be used in two ways: a) unique ARD "source" solutions can be generated at the research facility so that "surrogate" ARD solutions used in experiments will more closely match true field conditions and b) as test columns for evaluating ARD suppressing technologies such as delivering bactericides and/or organic matter either as the columns are being filled or after they have been "cooking" for several months.

I would be pleased to review any plans for implementing either of these two facilities if you decide they are worthwhile. Good luck in implementing your program.

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