In an ever-growing world that continues to develop, there is an increasing demand for resources to be discovered, processed, and manufactured. Industries mine for valuable resources such as gold, silver, and copper to produce the infrastructure and goods that have become a necessity. To obtain and increase the quality of resources mined, the sought-after elements must be separated from invaluable material. The byproduct of these processes is called mine waste, which contains various concentrations of potentially hazardous materials. Certain minerals, such as pyrite, are commonly found with heavier elements like lead, arsenic, and mercury. Factors such as precipitation, oxidation rate, and microbial interaction with minerals in the mine waste can impact the rate of mine waste deterioration. Heavier elements pose significant risk to the health of living organisms in cases where mine waste has been improperly disposed of, contaminating soil, air, and water sources. Much of the volume of mine waste does not have toxic materials and has the potential to be separated. Certain wastes such as those in Tonopah, Nevada have high clay content which enables ceramic materials to be produced such as bricks and sanitary ware. This project will explore producing ceramics from this mine waste as an alternative recycling method to reduce the impact this waste has on the environment.
Author: Kali Manning
Faculty Advisors: Drs. Claire McLeod and Mark Krekeler, Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Sciences
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