What is the future of mining? Is it possible to extract metals from the subsurface with radically less (ideally zero) mine waste??????

Rich Crane and colleagues from the EM3 Research Group and the University of Western Australia are currently investigating how we can apply novel methods to inject acids into the subsurface and then precisely control their movement using an electric field (see Figure below for simplified view ). This research could, in the long run, unlock a new type of mining, which analogous to “key-hole” surgery could (in theory!) enable metals to be recovered from the subsurface with minimal mine waste production. Watch this space!!!!

We currently have funding for a PhD project on this very topic (application deadline: 28th of March): http://www.exeter.ac.uk/studying/funding/award/?id=3866

Simplified schematic diagram of the theory behind the electromigration of a acid in the subsurface. RHS: an example of legacy mine site where the technology could potentially be applied in the future.

Richard Andrew Crane

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