4 Ways Micro-Organisms Can Benefit the Mining Industry
People have turned to the mining industry for work for hundreds of years. Interestingly enough, the latest science shows that micro-organisms may be put to work in the mines as well.
With some markets coming off significant mining booms, the mining industry is experiencing an increasing need for smarter, sustainable operational solutions. Globally, the mining sector faces environmental challenges, rising production costs, and fluctuating prices that warrant substantial interest in discovering new solutions to extract these resources in the most efficient and sustainable way.
In support of this, as reported by Deloitte’s 2014 Tracking the Trends report on mining: “Miners should innovate by adopting technologies to enable mine design and planning, energy supply, as well as adoption of emerging technologies.”
Among the more fascinating and surprisingly promising areas of technology rising to the mining industry’s challenge is genomics. The study of genomics combines genetics, biology and computer science through the study of a living organism’s DNA.
One might think this an especially strange area of study to apply to mining. However, the specific genomics applied in this case deal with the countless microscopic organism populations (e.g. microbes, such as bacteria) located within the rocks and dirt. So, while the science being applied here may be a bit foreign, the location of the micro-organisms definitely isn’t foreign territory.
The mining industry is now on the cusp of employing microbes much more efficiently in order to assist in a wide variety of mining areas, including faster and more accurate bio-monitoring and bioremediation, less resource-intensive extraction, extraction from low-grade ores, as well as refined approaches to acid mine drainage.