Project Title: Development of an integrated approach to sustainable mitigation of the impact of mine tailings
Host Organisation: Stellenbosch University, South Africa
This research project addresses the concerns around sustainability in mining. Mining activities are significant to developing economies and provide job opportunities for poor communities. The increase in technologies has increased the demand for metals, making mines economic centres. The problem however is that poverty and low quality of life are still a problem in developing countries. This is despite having large amounts of mineral resources which are yet to be mined and which have been mined and discarded.
The consequences of mining to people and to the environment are easily seen in large mountains of waste which are left behind. These release contaminants into waterways and rivers and cover the surrounding terrain with dust due to wind action. Communities who live in these areas rely on agriculture, livestock and cultivation to survive. Not only is their health threatened but their livelihoods are also at threat. This significantly slows down development, socially and economically.
It is possible to come up with ways to reduce the negative effects of mine waste in these communities and at the same time recover some economic value, which can finance this and provide jobs. This project is about recovering minerals which are hard to recover from waste and doing it in such a way that the people most affected can recover their land and gain some economic value. By developing a set of guidelines for processing and reducing the impact of mining waste this project will equip the relevant people concerned to manage resources more effectively.