Tag Archives: CRC TiME

Mine closure under the spotlight at IMARC

Experts from environmental, economic and social science backgrounds are converging in Sydney, Australia, this November at the International Mining and Resources Conference & Expo (IMARC) to discuss opportunities created by the rehabilitation and repurposing of out-of-use mine sites, according to event organisers.

Due to necessary land disturbances, most mine sites cannot be returned to their natural state so owners must look at how to repurpose them to create long-term economic opportunities and reduce the burden on the environment.

Dr Guy Boggs, CEO of CRC TiME, says these sites can provide long-term benefits far beyond mine lifespans.

“Everybody is focused on energy transition at the moment and the need to decarbonise,” he says. “There are some really novel projects happening, looking at old mine pits and turning them into pumped hydropower sites.”

He offers up the example of the old Kidston gold mine, west of Townsville, Queensland, that is starting to produce electricity with pumped hydro and also incorporates a massive solar energy farm.

“The mines have strong electricity grids so you can make use of the infrastructure that was built during the mine,” he said.

The Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro project will produce 250 MW of renewable energy, providing enough electricity to power 143,000 homes.

CRC TiME says old mine sites across Australia are being used for a range of long-term projects that the public may not be aware of. These include environmental sanctuaries in WA’s Goldfields region and scientific innovations such as an underground physics lab within the Stawell Gold Mine.

The rate of new mine closures in Australia is expected to increase in the near future as many mines come to the end of their operating life. On average, a mine is expected to operate between 10 and 30 years with the resources boom beginning 30 years ago, according to experts.

IMARC speaker, Meg Kauthen, Sustainability Designer at Business for Development, believes Australia is uniquely positioned to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the closure of mine sites.

Kauthen says: “If we get infrastructure aligned to the community’s needs, it’s a fantastic investment beyond the life of the mine. We have been working in Africa where we have repurposed old mine infrastructure to help boost the agronomics of the region in partnership with the Cotton On Group.

“We suggest that Australian mines and mining communities need to approach the development of infrastructure in the same way.”

The economic opportunities presented to many regional communities facing mine closures will require a diversified workforce ranging from engineers, business and operations managers, accountants, hydrologists and beyond, experts say.

And, by diversifying the economic opportunities in regional Australia, it is hoped that more people will migrate from the capital cities help grow smaller communities.

This is just one of the many opportunities within the mining sector being explored at IMARC, which will run from November 2-4, 2022.

International Mining is a media sponsor of IMARC 2022

Fortescue backs Pilbara mine site rehabilitation CRC project

The Cooperative Research Centre for Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC TiME), along with partners Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue), University of Western Australia (UWA) and Curtin University (Curtin), have announced a new project focusing on increasing plant nutrients in iron ore waste, enabling improved mine site rehabilitation in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The 12-month project is centred around the Fortescue’s Chichester Hub mine site and includes experimental glasshouse-based and laboratory testing undertaken at UWA, along with microbiology expertise from Curtin.

“The Pilbara region has a very thin layer of top soil which is essential for plant growth and is disrupted through mining,” CRC TiME said. “This project will formulate a process to increase plant available nutrient levels, specifically nitrogen for this study, in mineral waste (waste rock and tailings) and stockpiled soils (subsoils and topsoil) using novel plant-microbe systems, to improve the rehabilitation post-mining.”

Kirsty Beckett, Principal of Mine Closure at Fortescue, said: “This project is addressing a critical issue for the mining industry as available topsoil is a key limiting factor in the rehabilitation of large tracts of mining affected land. These areas can cover up to half of some of the Fortescue’s mine sites.”

CRC TiME CEO, Dr Guy Boggs, added: “Post-mining landscapes require the establishment of self-sustaining ecosystems over heavily altered landscapes constructed from mineral waste. Effectively and efficiently converting these landscapes into self-sustaining ecosystems delivers both environmental and financial benefits and provides more certainty on ecosystem resilience.”

CRC TiME receives grant funding from the Australian Government through the Cooperative Research Centre Program.

Australia establishes new CRCs to tackle ‘future energy’ and mining economies

The Australian Government has confirmed it will provide A$40 million ($25 million) for the establishment of the Future Energy Exports (FEnEx) CRC and A$29.5 million for the CRC for Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC TiME).

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews (pictured), and Minister for Resources, Northern Australia and Water, Keith Pitt, delivered the news this week.

Since 2013, the Australian Government has committed A$1.1 billion to support the establishment of 30 cooperative research councils, with industry and research partners contributing A$3.4 billion in cash and in-kind contributions, it said. Among a number of active CRCs are the MinEx CRC, aimed at lifting Australia’s mineral discovery rate, and CRC ORE, focused on optimising resource extraction.

Andrews said the FEnEx CRC would help Australia maintain its position as a leading global energy exporter. The bid has been substantially supported by the WA State Government, global energy giant Chevron, Hydrogen leader ITM Power and mining innovator Mineral Resources with research partners UWA, Curtin University, Queensland University of Technology, University of South Australia and Swinburne University, the FEnEx CRC said.

“The world’s demand for energy is insatiable and Australia is already dominant, with current energy exports worth nearly A$90 billion,” she said. “The FEnEx CRC will further strengthen our export industry by developing technologies to improve the efficiency of existing LNG processes and the development of new exports like hydrogen.

“Importantly, the FEnEx CRC will tap into international interest in lowering the cost of energy production, while at the same time reducing the carbon footprint of the LNG industry.

“This CRC’s research program promises to place Australia’s LNG sector well ahead of the curve by anticipating future changes in our energy mix, improving the competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of Australian industries.”

Minister Andrews said the CRC TiME, which has a national consortium led by The University of Queensland and University of Western Australia behind it, meanwhile, would help keep jobs in regional communities, building on the strength of the resources and energy sectors.

“Australia’s world-class mining expertise is undeniable, but being a global resources powerhouse means ensuring a sustainable future for our mining towns in rural and regional Australia,” she said.

Minister Pitt added: “The resources and energy sector is building new infrastructure across regional Australia and developing highly skilled and highly committed local workforces. This new CRC will provide the tools for towns and regions to navigate opportunities to create new jobs and development that keep communities strong.

“The government and the resources industry recognise more needs to be done to diversify the economy of some local communities, which are highly dependent on individual mining projects. The work of CRC TiME will help mining communities broaden their local economies so they can continue to grow and stay strong.”

The FEnEx CRC has generated a further A$122 million in cash and in-kind contributions from industry and researchers, while the CRC TiME has generated a further A$105 million in cash and in-kind contributions from industry and researchers.