EuroNews reports on a trend becoming more common in European metal mines: the high cost of extraction amid depleted resources.
It gives the example of the Pyhäsalmi mine in Finland, where scientists are trying to figure out new ways to find fresh orebodies using underground mapping, or re-using waste rock to add value in unique ways:
“Diamond drilling is a very expensive business. So if you can get more robust computer models, so you need to drill less holes in order to target the mineral spots, then you will reduce the expenses needed to drill those deep holes. What we can describe in a 3D model like this is the rocks units, structures which could be important for guiding where ores are located in the crust. So it is all about chemical and physical properties of the rocks.”
“Each enlargement is represented by just over 40 fields in a database. So it’s described in extreme detail: its type, geological formation but also the production, reserve, and resource levels too. Then it does the same for mine waste. Why waste? Well because the waste can contain substances that were rejected at the time, because no one knew what to do with it or didn’t have the technology to extract anything valuable and now we realise that waste can be used for the components of your mobile (phone) for example.”
The waste rock can also be used transform iron-bearing rock into materials for construction and painting.