SEESIMA has studied how to more reduce the impacts of mining

The SEESIMA project has aimed to raise awareness of technological solutions to the environmental impacts of mining activities and enhance improving economic returns. The project has conducted research and tested different technological advances that can improve the current practice of mineral processing, both from the production and from the waste handling point of view.

The mining industry consumes 10% of the world’s energy, of which a large part is used for reducing the size of the rocks to allow the separation of the valuable components from the waste rock. Reducing the rock to smaller sizes increases the energy consumption and can give problems in the later disposal of the waste rock. If the rock pieces are too large the separation of the valuable components can have a lower efficiency, reducing the economic result.

In project SEESIMA studies have been made of ways to improve the energy efficiency of grinding of rocks and separating the valuable components.

Allegory to eating?

The process of reducing the size of the rock can be likened to cutting chewing your food, and there are ways of making it more efficient. E.g. if the food is dry, you might add some drink to help the process. It is common to use water to help transport the rocks in the machinery, but it is desirable to use as little water as possible.

Some mines use a size reduction process without water, termed «Dry Grinding». This avoids the need to treat the waste water produced, but typically uses more energy than wet grinding. At Luleå Technical University the researchers have examined the effect of additives that made the size reduction and separation more efficient for Dry Grinding. They have shown that the energy used for Dry Grinding can be reduced by as much as 30%. Further works remains to determine what energy savings are possible if these results were implemented in industry.

Project: Supporting Environmental Economic and Social Impacts of Mining Activity (SEESIMA)

Lead partner: Northern Research Institute Narvik A.S., Narvik, Norway

Other partners:

  • Luleå University of Technology, Luleå
  • Narvik Science Park, Narvik
  • University of Oulu
  • Kola Science Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Apatity

Project information in KEEP database