Mines use billions of litres of water each year but with one billion people without clean drinking water and 2.5 billion lacking access to basic sanitation worldwide, doesn’t it seem preposterous to pour clean water down a mine?
Sending undrinkable domestic waste water and sea water to mine sites is a promising solution.
While preparing last week’s post, where I explored the lengths we will go to mine rare earth elements, I came across a TED talk I’d like to share.
In Our race to find rare earths, from deep sea to the moon, I mentioned the possibility of using nanomaterials to recover precious minerals from seawater.
Research engineer Damian Palin has been working on a similar idea, but better: the ultimate win-win situation even the greenest mining opponent couldn’t object to! He’s developing a way to use bacteria to biologically “mine” minerals from water — specifically, out of the brine left over from the desalinization process. (more…)