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No digging in mining

Republika

AS IT STANDS | Roman Floresca

When I was in fifth or sixth grade I spent several hours with my neighbor and friend waiting for those gargantuan trucks to pass by our town. They even told us that the truck had 16 gears and you can just imagine how excited we are to tell this to our friends.


Anyway those trucks still pass by our town when they go towards Poro Point in San Fernando, La Union where they unload their cargo. But those trucks may soon retire if a new mining system is adopted. I am talking about a new mining system that doesn’t rely on digging. A new mining technique that uses electric fields to extract metals from hard rock ore has been developed. They use electric fields to get the metals from the earth.


This new method is still being developed by researchers and scientists at The University of Western Australia, Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, the Technical University of Denmark and the University of Exeter and is published in Science Advances.


The technique could replace the traditional mining method which digs up a lot of earth from the ground resulting in significant losses to nature and the environment.


One of the researchers Prof. Henning Prommer from UWA’s School of Earth Sciences and CSIRO said the method works by installing electrodes within the ore body and applying electric currents that could induce the transport of electrically charged metals such as copper through rocks by a process called electromigration.


It has been successfully used in extracting copper and they believe the idea will work in the actual field for a wide range of other metals including gold.
“Traditional methods of excavating ore material result in a large amount of solid waste brought to the Earth’s surface which needs to be disposed of, whereas this new method dramatically decreases wastage,” Prof. Prommer said.


“It will not only improve mining outcomes, it will help us shift towards a more sustainable way of mining,” Prof. Andy Fourie from UWA’s School of Engineering said.


Does this mean we will not see anymore those half-naked men go deep underground to dig those precious ores? On the other hand this will mean that there will be more pressure on the environment as there will be less wastage.


But what about those workers who will be out of job when this new method is applied? Well, its five years or so before this method and by then our government would have done the necessary things to absorb all those who will be out of job.


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