UBC researches storing CO2 in tailings
Last updated 8/9/2019 at 5:02am
Giga Metals Corp. July 29 reported that Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has agreed to be part of a consortium of government agencies and industry partners, including Giga Metals, that have agreed to fund research into the sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) into silicate mine residue, including ultramafic residue from mineral deposits such as those being advanced at Giga Metals' Turnagain nickel-cobalt deposit in northern British Columbia.
"We are proud to support this research as an industry partner," said Giga Metals CEO Mark Jarvis. "More than a decade of research by project lead Dr. Greg Dipple has shown that silicate mineral residue, when exposed to the atmosphere, absorbs CO2 and converts it to carbonate minerals, and the CO2 would remain locked in the carbonates over geological time scales."
Dipple estimates that CO2 reacting with just 10 percent of the magnesium silicate and hydroxide minerals in a mine's tailings could more than offset the annual carbon emissions of a mining operation.
A total of C$3.5 million has been committed to the project, including C$2 million pledged by NRCan. The balance of the funds is being contributed by other geoscience agencies across Canada, including Geoscience B.C., the B.C. Geological Survey and the Geological Survey of Canada; as well as mining sector support from Giga Metals, First Point Minerals and De Beers Group.
"The level of support we are seeing from both government and industry is very encouraging and is enabling the start of field pilot tests of our technology," said Dipple, project lead and professor at the Bradshaw Research Initiative for Minerals and Mining, University of British Columbia. "Giga Metals, in addition to financial support, will be providing residues from their metallurgical test program which is currently underway. We will be investigating the rate of CO2 uptake from these samples as well as co-benefits such as cementation which could stabilize residue impoundment and reduce dust in the residue."
For Giga Metals, the ability to sequester CO2 fits well with its vision of being a premier supplier of the battery metals that will be needed as the world progresses toward low-carbon green energy.
A resource calculated for the company's Turnagain project in 2011 outlines 865 million metric tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 0.21 percent (4 billion pounds) nickel and 0.013 percent (250 million lb) cobalt; plus 976 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 0.2 (4 billion lb) nickel and 0.013 (280 million lb) cobalt.
Both nickel and cobalt are needed in the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and home power storage devises.
"There is a real possibility that the Turnagain project, if developed into a mine, could achieve our goal of being carbon neutral," said Jarvis.