Technology makes mining more environmentally friendly in 2019

Business News | 18 Jan |

Time and time again, we are reminded just how important it is that we start caring for our environment. With pressure on every industry to start changing their daily practices to help preserve the environment, the world has been hot on mining and construction in particular. As we head into 2019, the pressure is on to change everything from the drilling rig used, to the daily mine management, all to make the process much more eco-friendly. Here, we’re exploring just what technology is set to do precisely that in the New Year.

Hybrid Diesel-Electric Loader

Loaders are vital pieces of equipment for underground mining, carrying and moving everything from asphalt and dirt, to debris and raw materials to and from the underground mines. They’re a frequent vehicle of choice but unfortunately, as they are typically fuelled by diesel, which is a key cause of pollution. As this is then trapped underground, it can create harmful pockets that may be difficult to ventilate.

However, a hybrid diesel-electric loader has been designed and trialled – this is powered now just by diesel, but mostly by an electric engine, helping to reduce the emissions let out. What’s more, the high-efficiency filter will reduce dust emissions and provide that much-needed ventilation. Due to the fitting of the electric motor into the loader, it can be charged whilst still running, so doesn’t require time out to re-charge for the next task.

Biotechnology

Copper extraction is a very costly and energy-intensive process. However, biotechnology is changing this. Using this technology, it is possible to extract copper in a more efficient way and at a quicker pace. Biotechnology allows the natural process of microorganisms to free copper from the rocks and is encouraged to do so much more rapidly through the use of bioleaching ore. Bacteria is added and the rock releases the copper in a liquid property. This liquid form of copper is then put through the electrochemical process to turn it into solid copper.

The bacteria that is used throughout this process is a lot less harmful than the traditional method that involves cyanide, therefore providing a much kinder alternative for the environment.

Low-Carbon Cement Binder

The most common cement produced in a binder is Portland cement, which produces a massive one tonne of CO2 for every tonne of cement that is created. As you can imagine, these emissions are extensive and harmful and are therefore one of the biggest priorities for change in the coming years. The slag binder has been developed by using slag – waste rock and calcium hydroxide – and is a much more efficient and eco-friendly alternative. By using these ingredients, it not only reuses and recycles materials that are otherwise discarded at sites, but it is also offering a low-carbon cement binder as an alternative for environment-conscious sites.

From biotechnology to the creation of electric and eco-friendly tech for every mine, the mining industry could develop into something entirely new over the next year. While it ’s unlikely that every concern will be solved come December 31st, this could be the year that we start to see mining change for the better, and for good.

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