Of the many types of mercury-containing waste Ecocycle recycles, the most diverse category is mining waste.
Resource extraction, including the gas and oil industries, produce mercury-bearing waste in many forms including metallic mercury, instruments that contain mercury, catalysts, sludges and mine tailings.
Each type of waste has its own chemical and physical composition. For example, some waste types may contain volatile contaminants.
Each waste stream therefore needs to be assessed separately so tailored solutions can be developed.
Then there are more familiar items – like any business, mines also generate their fair share of battery and lighting waste.
For other types of mining waste one of the challenges is its sheer volume.
Where lighting waste may be measured in the tens or hundreds of kilograms, mining waste can come in hundreds or thousands of tonnes!
Most mine sites have their own systems in place for the collection and on-site storage of the particular types of waste they generate.
Ecocycle can advise resource companies on how to smoothly integrate on-site collection practices with the next step in the logistics train.
Transport and storage
As with collection, customised solutions are often needed when it comes to transporting mining waste.
In some cases, the mining companies are best equipped to manage transport of waste to our facilities.
Usually, however, Ecocycle arranges collection from the mine site and manages transport right through to our recycling facilities. This includes arranging all permits required for the transport of hazardous waste across state borders.
As it is more efficient to ship large batches of waste than several smaller loads, some waste may need to spend periods of time in storage while the necessary volumes accumulate.
With depots around Australia, Ecocycle can ensure customers that their waste will be safely stored under our watch, and in compliance with all legal and environmental requirements.
Ultimately, we recover the mercury from mining waste by distillation, the same process used for processing other mercury-containing waste.
The highly purified final product is then used by the dental industry to make dental amalgam for fillings.
As each type of mining waste has its own characteristics, our processes may need to be tweaked to ensure the safe handling and recovery of other contaminants.
Different as each type of mining waste may be, so far we’ve been able to develop recycling solutions for every form of mining waste we’ve been presented with.
Waste or recycling?
In our land of wide-open spaces, it’s easy to push a waste problem into a corner of a huge mine site and forget about it.
But eventually a mine site will require rehabilitation and that mercury-bearing waste will then become a problem to the site manager.
Who best to deal with it? A waste company or a recycling company?
The ‘waste’ approach too often has a focus on making the waste ‘disappear’. Unfortunately this can lead to illegal dumping.
For a dedicated recycling company such as Ecocycle, ‘waste’ is a resource – a source of materials that can be recovered and returned to economic use.
For us, achieving the best environmental outcome is as strong a motivator as solving the waste problems encountered by our customers.
Only recycling offers mine operators the certain knowledge that their mercury-containing mining waste is being dealt with in an environmentally responsible and ethical manner.
Find out more about how we can develop a recycling solution specifically for your type of mining waste.
Give us a call on 1300 32 62 92, or fill out the form below and one of our mine waste recycling experts will get in touch.