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Mapping out a sustainable future for mining

05 December, 2012

Research underway at Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Orange is using native wetland plants to help map out a sustainable future for Australian mining.

PhD student Allan Adams is comparing the ability of different native plants growing in artificial wetlands which could be used as part of the remediation of Newcrest Mining's Cadia Valley Operations (CVO), 25 km southwest of Orange, when operations there finish.
The wetlands would help filter the leachate produced when rain water washes through non-gold-bearing rock extracted from the mine.
CVO General Manager, Tony McPaul, said if the research results are positive, they could assist in the sustainable mine closure of CVO.
"We are always looking for improvements in the way we manage our environmental responsibilities in preparation for mine closure," McPaul said
"Although mine closure is many years away, the investigations and demonstrations that we do now will provide good guidance and input for the robust plan for site rehabilitation in the Cadia Valley."
Adams recently travelled to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the USA to learn molecular imaging techniques used to study the photosynthetic process.
"The idea behind the wetland solution is that the sediment at the bottom of the wetland, and the plants themselves, would filter the leachate by accumulating the metals and salts it contains," he said.
"Some plants are better equipped to grow in those conditions than others, and the molecular imaging experiments I was able to conduct in the USA were used to examine the affect of those compounds on the photosynthetic process.
"What we're looking for is a plant which would suit the specific conditions at Cadia Valley, but the broader principle would apply to other mine sites."

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