2021 Finalist: ASTech Awards
Dr. Milana Trifkovic and EnviCore tap mine tailings for valuable nanomaterials
The challenges of the international environmental and safety concerns associated with mitigating mine tailings have fundamentally altered the relationship across industry, governments, and society. Industry is faced with increasing cost of tailings management, and responsible for mitigating tailings-related environmental impacts such as methane emissions, heavy metal accumulation, acid rock drainage, and the increase in the land and water footprint. Tailings from specific mining operations contain an enormous (and largely untapped) resource stream of valuable nanomaterials.
EnviCore has designed and delivered a dual and holistic offering to address this problem and transform it into a benefit for operators and broader society. This was achieved through providing an effective and sustainable tailings treatment which transforms tailing ponds into thriving habitats while also providing the extraction of value-added materials, building on the concept of a circular economy. This ensures sustainable resource extraction, turns a current liability into a revenue stream for producers, and eliminates the need for public funds to be directed into reclamation efforts.
The core of this innovation lies in a two-step process
The core of this innovation lies in a two-step process derived from a multi-disciplinary approach. Recognizing the most problematic fraction of tailings is nanosized clay particles, it is also a potentially highly valuable product for construction, oil and gas, and polymer industries. EnviCore developed this cost-effective technology to selectively segregate valuable nanomaterials, leaving behind the treated sediment that surpasses the specs in terms of solid content, water release, and strength of what can be currently achieved in practice.
EnviCore’s transformative technology offers the elimination of the current tailings liability problem for oil sands operators, and opens the door to easily shift this liability of ~$26 billion into a revenue stream.
“This technology can mean the difference between major infrastructure projects being in compliance with local, regional and global greenhouse gas targets and securing continued approval, and failing to comply with environmental regulation resulting in financial penalties and in some case the cancellation of projects.”
Vice President Business Development