Critical metal recovery and geometallurgy
At the EEGL, we use geometallurgical and crystallographic techniques to study how metal deportment in minerals changes throughout the mining lifecycle. By understanding which minerals are ‘ore minerals’ at every stage of mining –– from exploration through processing to tailings management –– we are working to improve both recovery of critical metal resources and the stability of mineral traps for potentially hazardous metals.
critical metal recovery from tailings. Tailings produced by nickel, cobalt, copper and platinum group element mines commonly contain a significant amount of ‘unrecoverable’ metals. For instance, some high tonnage, low grade nickel deposits remit 30–40% of the nickel resource to tailings. Natural and enhanced weathering processes that occur in tailings storage facilities can be used to concentrate and recover these critical metals.
Our current work focuses on:
- Developing enhanced weathering and carbonation as an ore processing technology that can be used to recover critical metals from tailings (Hamilton et al., 2018; Hamilton et al., 2020).
- Using geometallurgy and integrated, multi-scale mineralogy data sets to develop a framework for understanding ore mineralogy over the entire life-of-mine, over the entire mining landscape.
- Developing partnerships with industry leaders who share our goal of re-inventing tailings storage facilities as part of the ore processing circuit to extend life-of-mine, reduce the environmental footprint of mining and exploration costs, to increase our production of metals needed for the clean energy transition, and to provide longevity of job security for mining communities.