Mining waste environments: globally significant and growing biogeochemical hotspots

Thursday, March 14, 2019 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

As part of the Water Institute's WaterTalks lecture series Professor Lesley Warren, Claudette Mackay-Lassonde Chair in Mineral Engineering at the University of Toronto, will present "Mining waste environments: globally significant and growing biogeochemical hotspots"

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Globally, extractive industries are estimated to produce 7.2 billion tons of waste and use 7-9 billion cubic meters of water every year; creating one of the fastest growing and least well studied biogeochemical contexts on the planet with increasingly important implications for our freshwater resources. Tailings, containing reactive sulfur, iron, nitrogen and carbon compounds, represent the largest global mining environmental liability. Currently, it is difficult for mines to design tailings impoundments or develop effective management and reclamation approaches, because the microbial processes that generate impacts remain a black box. However, as mining landscapes continue to grow world-wide, the fundamental lessons learned in these contexts are also required to better inform our understanding of global biogeochemical cycling. Here, I will present results from both metal and oil sands mining contexts, where we have begun to address this knowledge gap through the joint application of genomics and geochemistry. Research to date provides fascinating glimpses of extensive and often surprising biogeochemical cycling within these environments, as well as distinctive microbial communities that interactively shape biogeochemical outcomes.

Speaker Bio

Lesley Warren

Dr. Lesley Warren leads the Lassonde Institute of Mining at the University of Toronto as Managing Director and Chief Principal Investigator. She has an internationally recognized track record of integrated geochemical and microbiological investigation. As a leading expert, she has partnered with numerous energy and mining industry companies, consortiums and governmental agencies around the globe. Dr. Warren’s work is breaking new ground and helping strengthen the mining industry today and into the future.

As Chief Principal Investigator her research develops transformative industry advancements through emerging molecular biological techniques. Some of her current research projects with Syncrude, COSIA, Glencore, HudBay and Rambler aim to develop new biologically informed smart solutions for mining impacted water. Through leading-edge wastewater management and reclamation innovations she is helping industry be more sustainable, efficient and cost-effective.

The Lassonde Institute of Mining is a global leader in interdisciplinary mining research and industry-academic partnerships. Linking world-renowned Principal Investigators from engineering, applied sciences, earth sciences, physics, finance, law and public policy the Lassonde Institute pioneers practical technologies. With world-class facilities, the Lassonde Institute provides unparalleled opportunities for students, researchers and the mining community and trains the future mining leaders of tomorrow.