Project: Tools for sustainable gold mining in EU

Acronym SUSMIN
Duration 01/01/2014 - 31/12/2016
Project Topic Gold mining is a chance for Europe to increase economic development, but its challenge is eco-efficiency due to low grade of gold in the ore, its extraction methods (e.g. cyanide) and association often with arsenopyrite. Due to its high mobility and toxicity, arsenic is problematic in mine wastes and waters, but it also complicates the recovery of gold. Social licence for gold mining is often more challenging by respect to other mineral resources. Thus, economically viable gold mining is also dependent on environmental and social sustainability. The objective of the project is to support environmentally, socially and economically sustainable gold production within EU to decrease import dependency. The project identifies, tests and improves technological solutions for gold exploration, mineral processing, water treatment, waste management and environmental impact assessment. In addition, project aims to develop tools for enhancing corporate social responsibility, social acceptance and designing postmining development. Research and development measures will be carried out cooperatively between partners and industrial companies in case studies at participating countries. The project provides new sustainable technologies for exploration, selective gold recovery with decreased environmental impacts, alternative reagents for cyanide, advanced adsorbents for water treatment and methods for sustainable waste management such as paste technology. With the environmental risk assessment and better knowledge of geochemistry and long-term transformation of the contaminants in wastes and mine waters, the mining companies are able to predict and prevent the impacts to the surrounding environment. Results will be combined to reports and recommendations for mine industry and will be useful for the industrial partners and have national and transnational impact.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
Although the gold demand has beenconstantly increasing in past years, the commodity findings have been decreasing and the extraction of gold has complicated due to increasing complexity and decreasing grade of the ores. Additionally, even gold mining could increase economical development, it has also challenges in eco-efficiency and extraction methods (e.g. cyanide). Thus, the novel energy and resource-effici ent methods and technologies for mineral processing should be developed to concentrate selectively different gold bearing minerals. Furthermore, technologies for efficient treatmentof mine waters, sustainable management of wastes, and methods to diminish environmental and social impacts of mining are needed. These problems were addressed by the three year long project SUSMIN. The SUSMIN consortium led by Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) included seven research partners from six EU member states Finland, Sweden, Portugal, Romania, Poland and Ireland. Additionally nine globally on mining industry working industry partners were contributing in the SUSMIN consortium, so implementation of results from the project can be translated into direct and significant economic benefits. The SUSMIN-project identified and evaluated environmental impacts and economical challenges of gold mining within EU. The objective of the project was to increase the transnational cooperation and to support environmentally, socially and economically sustainable viable gold production SUSMIN project provided novel informationon potential and reliable geophysical methods combination to enhance the gold exploration. Beneficiation studies provided optimized leaching parameters for gold recovery from both cyanide and alternative leaching methods (e.g. thiosulphate) as well as utility of processing aids for selective gold recovery. In addition, water treatment studies verified the effectiveness of different adsorbent materials to treat arsenic containing process effluent, dewatering andseepage waters to meet the environmental standards for mine water quality. Also factors controlling arsenic leaching from gold mine wastes in dynamic conditions were determined. The research verified applicability of environmental monitoring tools and isotopic tracers to assess contaminant migration to mine environment. Additionally, the study provided new approach for using ecological risk assessment to improve environmental management strategies at mines. Moreover, key issues affecting social license to operate (SLO) at gold mines in EU were canvassed. This knowledge can be utilized to enhance the corporate social responsibility as well as community engagement and management of the relations with the stakeholders in gold mining areas to improve sustainability and long term development of the mining areas.
Website visit project website
Network ERA-MIN
Call Sustainable And Responsible Supply Of Primary Resources

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Geological Survey of Finland Coordinator Finland
2 Luleå University of Technology Partner Sweden
3 Geological Institute of Romania Partner Romania
4 Wroclaw University of Technology Partner Poland
5 Babes-Bolyai University Partner Romania
6 Trinity College Dublin Observer Ireland
7 University of Porto Partner Portugal