Recovery and re-use of mining and processing waste are the aims ofÂ MIN-NOVATION – a partly EU financed project – that draws attention to barriers and opportunities for mining waste management. After Â a communications seminar in Riga organised by Baltic Develoment Forum MIN-NOVATION created this article:
There are few things in todayâ€™s world which on closer inspection donâ€™t reveal one or more layers of value thanks to human ingenuity, new technologies, and good old common sense.
Imagine a random mine waste heap somewhere in central Sweden, southern Poland or eastern Estonia. For example, like the one in the picture on the left. Some will say itâ€™s a blot on the landscape; others will call it industrial heritage. However one chooses to name it, it is one huge pile of mining waste.
But what if you learnt that the heap holds valuable metals such as vanadium and molybdenum which are recoverable with todayâ€™s technologies and the total deposit is worth approx. 1 billion EUR? What if the pile could be converted into a ski slope and become one of the areaâ€™s main local winter sport attractions? How would you react if told that tens of new jobs could be created locally by converting waste from the coal extraction process into a sellable aggregate product for use in the construction sector?
Interested in the potential of mining waste, the MIN-NOVATION project, which brings together 11 organizations from Estonia, Finland, Germany, Norway, Poland and Sweden, has driven home the message that with responsible regulations, access to new technologies and greater awareness among stakeholders about the opportunities for recovery, recycling, re-use and reclamation, mining waste management can translate to products, services, jobs and greater environmental protection. The message is as much for local authorities and communities as it is for businesses, which may have an idea of the value of what is left over as a result of the extraction process, but have doubts about the economic viability of such a business activity.
The MIN-NOVATION project is contributing to a better appreciation and understanding of waste from extractive industry as a resource through the following activities:
vÂ Four pilot investments in Sweden, Poland, Finland and Estonia set up as part of the project highlight the many different ways of creating value from waste deposits. They will be open to the general public and stakeholders alike.
vÂ An online compendium of mining waste management techniques and technologies with case studies from across the Baltic Sea Region reveals current practice and promising developments.
vÂ Project partners set up networks where local and regional stakeholders have been able to focus around core areas of interest and concern in relation to mining waste management and arrive at meaningful conclusions about what can realistically be done to improve traditional ways of dealing with mining waste and advance innovative approaches and novel business ideas for turning waste into a product or service.
Next time you are passing by a slag heap, tailings pond or other mining waste deposit on your holiday or on a business trip, think RESOURCE and VALUE. For more information on MIN-NOVATION visit our website www.min-novation.eu or contact the Lead Partner, the AGH University of Science & Technology, represented by Dr Anna OstrÄ™ga [email protected].