Learning and Discussion of Innovative ideas about Mining Waste Management and also Mining Related News and Activities

  • Mine Waste Management Training

    Mine Waste Management Short training sponsored by Government of Japan through JICA in corporation with the Government of PNG through CEPA, MRA and DMPGM.

  • Mount Sinivit Mine

    Acid mine drainage (AMD) continues to flow from the abondoned workings (mine). It is of two types and they are Mine Drainage from underground and open-pit and the seepage water from waste dump and tailings dam.

  • Mining Warden Hearing at Ok Isai Village, Frieda River, East Sepik Province, PNG

    Landowner grievances is always a challenge for the PNG Mining Industry. However, the Regulators of the Mining Inductry facilitate Mining Warden Hearings and Development Forums to address grievances related to mining.

  • Osarizawa Underground Mine Adit

    Osarizawa Underground Mine is an abandoned mine in Akita Prefecture, Japan. Event though the mine is closed, the mine site is kept for sightseeing purposes.

  • Hidden Valley Tailings Storage Facility (TSF)

    Mine Waste refers to the waste related to mining activities such as tailings and waste rock. Management refer to how the mine derived waste is managed by the operator and or the Regulatory Body.

Showing posts with label Mine Waste Treatment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mine Waste Treatment. Show all posts

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Applications (Uses) of Zeolites in the Livestock and Agriculture Industries.

Zeolites are widely used in the livestock and agriculture industries among other uses. In this article, it discusses the common uses of zeolites in the livestock and agriculture industries. In the Livestock Industry, zeolite is purposely used for improving the growth and health of animals while in the Agriculture Industry, zeolite is used for the purpose of improving the fertility of the soil for healthy growth of cash crops.

The use of zeolites in the livestock industry is basically added to the livestock feed which absorb the toxins in the body of chickens and pigs and finally discharge them out of the body.

Furthermore, the minerals contained in the zeolites actually promote the growth and health of livestock. That is, zeolites adsorb the stench of ammonia to improve the environment and also function as drying aids by virtue of their ability to absorb moisture. Thus, cat litter (litter for pets) utilize such properties of zeolites for optimum benefits.

In the Agriculture Industry, it utilizes the properties of zeolites such as the adsorption capability and Base Exchange capability which prevent the outflow of fertilizers by absorbing the components of fertilizers as well as improving soils by neutralizing soils containing acids or acidic soils. Zeolites also have excellent absorption ability and water retention capacity which make them more effective in preventing either drought or cold weather impacts of any kind cause by nature.

Estimation of cation exchange capacity of zeolite is much more difficult as it is closely related with qualities from its appearance. As such, zeolite powder is not readily distinguished from other rock powder.

Zeolite is specified as land improvement material by a Cabinet Order based on the Soil fertility Enhancement Act (Act No.34 of 1984) in order to assure the quality. According to Cabinet Order, the zeolite must meet the criterion “cation exchange capacity (C.E.C.) per 100 g of dry matter is 50g or more.”

Moreover, the applications or uses of zeolites range from water purification for fish farming to pollution prevention exercises. The water purification for fish farming refers to a function to adsorb ammonia and hydrogen sulfide in water which produces purified water.  In addition to that, zeolites have an effect of softening hard water to stabilize pH.

Besides water purification for fish farming, zeolites are also used for pollution prevention in the following fields:

·         Purification of hazardous components in industrial wastewater.
·         Adsorption treatment of heavy metal ions from abandoned mines.
·         Removal of heavy metals from plating waste.
·         Decolourization of waste water from dye houses.
·         Prevention of eutrophication of lakes and marshes caused by ammonia nitrogen.
·         Removal of harmful components from automobile exhaust gas.

The supply of zeolites depends entirely on clients' demand and off course consumption rate. Supply of zeolites is also dictated by scale of mining operation and processing.

Zeolite ore (rock)

Related Articles

Boiling stone (zeolite), Zeolite Dynamics, Lecture Notes.
Nouko to Engei (Agriculture and Horticulture), September 1978.
Materials for Zeolite Forum (1989)
Survey by Zeolite Industrial Association


Sunday, 28 January 2018

Characteristics of Zeolite Ore

  • Like any other matters, Zeolite has two major characteristics which are:
1.      a chemical composition having zeolitic water, and
2.      An excellent ion exchange capability.
Zeolitic water is unique in the composition which is hardly observed in other minerals, as dehydration occurs without changing the crystal structure under heating. This hydration behaviour enables zeolite to be used as moisture absorbent.
In addition, the dehydrated zeolite has a myriad of holes like a honeycomp and the holes have such small sizes in the order of angstroms (Symbole:Å, unit cm/100 million). Accordingly a mixture of gasses with different molecular sizes, which are chemically difficult to separate at the molecular level, can be sieved through zeolite. This is called the “molecular sieve effect.”
The Cation exchange capacity of zeolite is explained as follows:
The general chemical composition of zeolite in general is indicated by
(M2+,M2+)O.Al2O3.mSiO2.nH2O. The symbols in the parentheses at the beginning of the formula indicate exchangeable cations. Cations in zeolite are exchangeable with other cations in aqueous solutions. In chemical terms, material with a positive charge is referred to as a base. The ability to exchange bases is Base Exchange capability (or cation exchange capability), while the capacity to exchange bases is base exchange capacity (or cation exchange capacity) and is called C.E.C., the acronym for “Cation Exchange Capacity.”

Ion exchangeability allows silicon (Si) atoms located in the centre of the zeolite crystal lattice to be partially replaced with aluminium (Al) atoms, resulting in the loss of cations. Cations such as sodium (Na), Calcium (Ca) are captured in the crystal lattice to compensate for the shortage.
The function of C.E.C. is similar to that of the liver of an animal which stores nutrients. Zeolite adsorbs and stores fertilizer components (bases) such as sodium, potassium and calcium to supply the nutrients (fertilizer components) to crops in response to request.
The unit of cation exchange capacity is represented by mg equivalent (meq) per 100g of soils or zeolite rocks.
The cation capacities of clay minerals are different depending on the type of minerals. Montmorillonite is the main mineral source for bentonite which exhibits the highest C.E.C. after zeolite.

 Zeolite Mine in Japan
Localities of Zeolite Ore
Zeolite (Boiling Stone) Ore

Boiling stone (zeolite), Zeolite Dynamics, Lecture Notes.
Roskill Report (1990)
Annual Reports of Various Companies.
Nouko to Engei (Agriculture and Horticulture), September 1978.

JACT News.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Localities of Zeolite Ore

Since all Zeolites are alteration products of volcanic glass present in tuff (a rock containing consolidated volcanic ash) or tuff breccia (rock consists of volcanic rocks cemented together by large amount of volcanic ash), the ore does not consist solely of zeolite, and thus it is appropriate to be called zeolite-containing tuff.

Zeolite resources can be found in sedimentary layers or rocks of volcanic ash throughout the world. Natural zeolite deposits have recently been discovered in the Pacific Rim countries, including New Zealand and countries of Mediterranean coast.  Among these countries, Japan has been leading the rest of the world in the exploration and development of natural zeolite and has been the world’s major producing countries.

Localities of Natural zeolite in the United States are distributed mainly in the western states such as Oregon, Nevada, California and Idaho. Most of the mines produce clinoptilolite and mordenite

Apart from United States and Japan, zeolite is also discovered in Eastern European countries which include eastern part of Czechoslovakia, the north-eastern part of Hungary, the north-western part of Yugoslavia, and south-eastern part of Bulgaria. And also countries like Italy, Cuba, Brazil, South Africa and China are all recorded as zeolite producing countries.

Australia recently started producing natural zeolite in Werris Creek, South of Tamworth in New South Wales as well as Cranky Corner near Singleton.

Zeolite is purified differently depending on the nature of the ores and is associated to the processes of granulation, drying, milling, screening (sizing) and bagging. Special applications such as filler for high-quality paper, after milling, the zeolite is subject to wet process of bleaching, concentration, filtering and finally drying.

Boiling stone (zeolite), Zeolite Dynamics, Lecture Notes.
Roskill Report (1990)
Annual Reports of Various Companies


Thursday, 25 January 2018

Zeolite (Boiling Stone) Ore

Zeoilte (Boiling Stone) Ore
Zeolite is a term referred to as Boiling Stone. The Term Zeolite is derived from two Greek words Zeo (to boil) and Lite (a stone).  The heated ore supported at the tip of a blowpipe which is used for qualitative research is observed to swell into a pumice-like porous state when air is blown from the mouthpiece. The phrase boiling term comes from this behaviour.
Zeolite is an aluminosilicate mineral (silicate in which silicone atoms are partially replaced with aluminium atoms) containing maily alkali metals such as sodium and potassium and alkaline earth metals such as calcium and magnesium, as well as water molucules (H2O) in the form of crystals.

M2+: Mainly Calcium (Ca)
M+: Mainly Sodium (Na), Potassium (K)

Zeolite commonly occur in pores of volcanic rocks or inside the rocks in the shape of veins, and are found in the strata near metal ore deposits as well as geothermal power plants and hot springs. Volcanic glass in tuff often transforms into zeolite under the influence of seawater. As a result, besides pure zeolite components, zeolite rock contains minerals such as clay (montmorillonite), iron oxide and feldspar.

Generally, zeolite will generate different zeolite crystal structures, even if it is from the same origin rock, depending on the burial depths, with the pressure on the rock increases to affect the crystal structure with and aid of ground water and hot water. Natural
Among many minerals, the widely distributed natural zeolites are clinoptilolite (often called ‘clino’) and mordenite.
Laumontite is a white plate-like or columnar crystal. Laumontite, which is formed primarily by the action of hot spring water, replaces minerals in rocks or fill cracks making a pattern of veins. Laumontite can be found in aggregates (or gravel) in concrete.
Laumontite is said to react with alkali in cement (alkali-aggregate reaction) to inflate the aggregate which cause cracking.

Applications of zeolite will be in the next article.

Reference: Boiling stone (zeolite), Zeolite Dynamics, Lecture Notes.

Zeolite ore 

Zeolite Mine in Japan

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

How to Conduct Rapid PACKTEST in a Well (below 1 meter in depth)

Well is simply a shaft sunk into the ground or built upwards from certain depths below a natural surface of the ground which extends further above certain heights of the natural surface of the ground 

Wells can be naturally occurring or man-made. Man-made wells are created to suite the desired purpose(s) of the organisation or individuals. Wells can be created to collect water or oil or gas below the earth’s surface.

In a mining operation, wells are created for the purposes of heap leaching through a vat. Heap Leaching is one of the various mining techniques to extract gold from the ore of various host rocks using cyanide which is one of the common solvent in this gold recovery technique.

During the gold recovery process, cyanide is sprinkled over the heap of crushed gold bearing gravels (ore) to dissolve the gold into a pregnant solution or into liquid form. The pregnant solution is then sucked out through the vat and further into carbon columns and take to the processing plant for further processing and smelting.

Upon the closure of the mine, the vats are no longer in use. Cyanide is left behind the pool beside the heap-vats eventually gets into the surrounding environment which is a concern for mine waste management. Water is then filled through the Vats up to certain heights.  So from the top and surface of the heap-vats, the water level is below certain depths of about 2 – 3 meters which are hardly reached by hand. And also the diameter of the vats is about 30-40 cm which is too narrow to be accessed. So how can you how can you overcome this challenge to take a water sample for a Rapid PACKTEST as well as other measurements?

The simple way to get sample is by utilising the following equipment procedures:

1.     String line (rope)
2.     Metal weight(1kg weight)
3.     3x1 Litre plastic bottle(container)
4.     Masking tape
5.     Water level measuring tape
6.     GPS
7.     Note book, pen, pencil
8.     Camera
9.     Blade/kitchen knife
10. PACKTEST kits
11. Syringe
12. 0.45µm filter
13. turbidity meter
14. pH meter
15. Laptop/computer


1.     Cut the 1 Litre plastic bottles (container) into more than half.
2.     Tie the 1kg metal weight at the tip of the string line.
3.     With the masking tape, fasten the cut container with the weight attached to the stringline.
4.     Drop the container attached to the weight and stringline into the well and allow the container to be filled with water.
5.     Pull the string line with all its attached items and pour the fetched water into the other reserved containers.
6.     Never forget to measure the water level by using the 50m water level measuring tape.
7.     Using the GPS you take the readings of sample location coordinates and altitude and location zone.
8.     Finally , you conduct Rapid PACKTEST and
9.     Turbidity and pH measurements, conductivity and temperature readings as well.

The above procedure can be repeated for wells or pools that are hardly accessible in person or by hand.

Data Collection of theRapid PACKTEST is the final thing to do before moving to the next location or ending the field work.


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Zeolite Mine in Japan

Zeolite is defined in the OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS Dictionary as any of a large group of minerals consisting of hydrated aluminosilicates, used as cation exchangers and molecular sieves.

Zeolite is varies from colours dictated by the host rocks and soil and also reaction with the atmosphere. The colour of Pure Zeolite is blue-green (Teal) or sky-blue.  A fresh-cut zeolite ore looks a bit green but when it gets expose to air and dry, it will look like a sky-blue.

Zeolite is one of the most demanding mineral products in the agro-industry as well as mining industry especially in mine waste management section of environment department. The Agro-industry requires the end product of zeolite mineral in treating water and soil.

The Zeolite Mine in Akita Prefecture in Japan is one of the small scale mines which utilises one excavator and one haul truck at the mine site apart from processing facilities. Mining and Processing of zeolite to its finished product is so simple and does not require intensive labour. There are about two-three workers at the mine site. The operational costs and capital costs are too low and the operation is feasible at a minimum cost.  One excavator does dual tasks by changing the mounted bucket and rock drill bit. To break the ore, drill bit is inserted. After drilling is done, bucket is inserted to collect the fractured zeolite ore and further stockpile on site for haulage.

One haul truck is used for transporting the ore to the processing facilities. From the processing facilities, ore is crushed, screened and packed depending on customers’ demand and requisition. This process is repeated which constitute the mine cycle. If demand increases, production is increased which obviously require additional equipment and labour to cater for the demand.

Zeolite is extremely amazing in the water treatment. If zeolite powder is poured or mix with dirty water, you will definitely get clear water as zeolite causes the suspended particles in water to settle to the bottom of the water within few seconds.  Polluted soils can be treated to regain its normal soil fertility.  Zeolite powders are also fed to livestock.  If zeolite ore is placed in water, it will melt like ice-ream until the junk is disappeared.

Zeolite can be used as either passive or active treatment in the mine waste water treatment.

(Picture of Zeolite Mine in Akita Prefecture near Kosaka, Japan)


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Possible Mine Pollution in a Metal Mine

In an event when rain fall, water seepage cause subsidence of overburden materials. Rain water reacts with acid forming rocks and generate acid mine drainage (AMD). The ionized water flows with lose particles of materials known to be sediment runoff which eventually becomes the tributary of a nearby stream. Consequently the pH is reduced at the nearby stream.

Sometimes structures of facilities fail and waste water is released into the environment without proper treatment and this is a concern for environment pollution along the riverine inhabitants. 

In sulfide mines the possible pollution are:
  • Acid drainage from mine adit
  • Surface exposure to atmosphere and moisture
  • Tailing dam gradually eroded by river water
  • Bursting of waste rock/tailing dam
  • collapse of abandoned dressing plant.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Mining and Natural Environment

Mining is one of the old human activities just like agriculture, fishery, forestry, manufacturing etc. Human lives are supported by obtaining and utilizing mineral resources from the earth's crust.

The Distinctive Features of Mines and Mining include but not limited to the following:

  • Non-renewable assets - Mining Industry is based on non-reproducible and depleting assets. 
  • Location  - Mining takes places where the ore body is reachable at economic value.
  • Environment Impacts - Mining may disturb and contaminate the surrounding environments.
  • Local Community Relations - Usually mines are located in the remote areas, thus close relationship with local communities is strongly encouraged.
  • Working Condition - Occupational Health and Safety are the first priorities of mining.
  • High Risk and Vulnerability - Mining Projects are susceptible to a variety of risks.
  • Long Leading Time - Engineering works and permission to open a new mine need a longer term.
  • Required Engineering Ability - Stable and successful mining is likely dependent on a combination of widely used practical technologies.
  • Capital Advantage - Intense capital is required for continuous prospect or explore new deposits and endure risky business.
Out of the distinctive features of mines and mining, one of the most critical agenda around the globe is the Environment Impacts related to mining.

Environment Impact in mining is unavoidable but can be controlled to minimize the aftermaths. Mining is a backbone of a country's economic growth. In Papua New Guinea(PNG), the country's economy is mostly dependent on the extractive Industry which include Mining and Petroleum.

Some people in PNG speak negative about mining and encourage the protection of the natural environment. It should be understood that, before gardening, it must be cultivation of the land for farming. Then sacrifice the vegetation to farm the land. Similarly, the forest and the surrounding environment is sacrificed to mine out what is on/beneath the earth's crust including ocean floor.

There are legislations, prevention and treatment techniques available to safeguard and protect the environment from the waste generated from the mines.


Friday, 28 April 2017

Passive and Active Treatment of Mine Waste Water

Active treatment is the water treatment in which continuous effort is required to improve the quality of water. It requires artificial ongoing energy inputs and bio-chemical or chemical reagents.

Passive treatment is a intended water treatment method to improve the quality of water by the use  of available natural materials or energy sources in the systems that minimises the regular maintenance for the system to operate effectively over the entire life of system design.

Benefits of Passive Treatment
  • Reduces the cost of treatment
  • Reduces labour cost - maintenance is almost free.
  • Effective Natural purification
  • Reduces operating cost (chemicals, electricity etc..)
  • No disturbance to the natural landscape
Challenges of Active Treatment

  • Capital and operational cost is very high.
  • Requires more effort and close monitoring.
  • Requires high cost of maintenance.
  • Landscape disturbance is necessary.
Continuous research is required to develop a technology of how best and effective way that will minimise cost of installation and maintenance of active water treatment plants.

Abandoned Mines and Possible Issues

Acid Mine Drainage (AMD)  is a common issue in abandoned mines. AMD is produced by oxidation of pyrite (FeS2) and AMD also contains heavy metals.

After the exploitation of sulfide minerals in the metals mines, heavy metals such as pyrite, chalcopyrite, sphalerite, galena and other minerals that are not mined during the mining operation. The remaining minerals react over time with groundwater and oxygen and produce acid mine drainage that heavy metals are contained in it.

Tailings dam where tailings of mine related waste are dumped into the tailings dam or Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) become a source of mine pollution as seepage. Metals in the seepage water from the tailings dam dissolve out with rain and surface water which eventually contribute to the issues.

The content of heavy metals reduces the pH level of Water and reduces the quality of water which people commonly refer to as mine pollution.
Photo: Example of Abandoned Mine  - Mt.Sinivit Gold Mine, PNG.


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Water Pollution

Water Pollution is of two types. Waste Water Pollution and Mine Water Pollution. Mine water pollution is induce when water from the mine or rain water passes through exposed acid forming rocks/minerals. Waste water pollution is when the miner/operator of the mining project discharges the waste water containing heavy metals into the environment. Both of them causes the pH of the water/creeks/rivers to be lower than 7.

Some mines treat the waste water and raise the pH level up to 10 at the water treatment plants before discharging into the environment.

Waste water can be treat and controlled by active treatment and mine water can be actively treated or passively treated. Active treatment of mine water is an expensive exercise.

Mine Water pollution and its treatment is a challenge for all the Mining Regulators in the world today. Most tributary creeks/rivers of the polluted creeks/rivers have higher pH which can dilute the polluted creek/river and raise pH level.

One of the challenges face by the riverine communities is turbidity which affects the drinking water quality and also the diversion of river course which affects the riverine communities as well.



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Osarizawa Mine in Akita Prefecture, Japan

Osarizawa Underground Mine Adit Osarizawa mine is an abandoned mine in Akita Prefecture, Japan . Event though the mine is closed, the ...

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