TABLE 8-1 Key Research and Development Needs for the Mining Industries

Research and Development Needs

Exploration, Chapter 3a

Mining, Chapter 3a

In-Situ, Chapter 3a

Processing, Chapter 3a

Health & Safety, Chapter 4a

Environmental Protection, Chapter 5a

Basic Research

 

Basic chemistry – thermodynamic and kinetic data, electrochemistry

X

 

X

X

 

X

Fracture processes – physics of fracturing, mineralogical complexities, etc.

 

X

X

X

 

Geological, geohydrological, geochemical, and environmental models of ore deposits

X

X

X

 

X

Biomedical, biochemical, and biophysical Sciences

X

X

X

X

X

X

Applied Research

 

Characterization – geology (including geologic maps), hydrology, process mineralogy, rock properties, soils, cross-borehole techniques, etc.

X

X

X

X

X

X

Fracture processes – drilling, blasting, excavation, comminution (including rock-fracturing and rubblization techniques for in-situ leaching and borehole mining)

X

X

X

X

 

Modeling and visualization – virtual reality for training, engineering systems, fluid flow

X

X

X

X

X

X

Development of new chemical reagents and microbiological agents for mining-related applications (such as flotation, dissolution of minerals, grinding, classification, and dewatering)

 

X

X

 

Biomedical, biochemical, and biophysical sciences

 

X

X

X

X

Water treatment

 

X

Closure

 

X

X

Alternatives to phosphogypsum production and management

 

X

Technology Development

 

Sensors – analytical (chemical and mineralogical; hand-held and down-hole), Geophysical (including airplane drones, shallow seismic data, and hyperspectral data), surface features, personal health and safety, etc.

X

X

X

X

X

X

Communications and monitoring

 

X

 

X

X

X

Autonomous mining

 

X

 

X

 

Total resource recovery without environmental impact

 

X

X

X

 

X

Fine and ultrafine mineral recovery (including solid-liquid separation, recovery of ultrafine particles, disposal)

 

X

X

X

In-situ technologies for low-permeability ores (includes some of the technologies under fracture processes as well as directional drilling, drilling efficiencies, casing for greater depths)

X

 

X

X

 

Biomining

 

X

X

X

 

Fracture processes – applications of petroleum and geothermal drilling Technologies to mining

X

X

X

 

aJustification for including these research and development needs are found in the following chapters indicated.

RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES IN ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGIES

Finding. The need for a better understanding of the scientific underpinnings of the environmental issues and for more effective technologies to address them cannot be overemphasized.

Recommendation. Technologies that attempt to predict, prevent, mitigate, or treat environmental problems will be increasingly important to the economic viability of the mining industry. Improved environmental technologies related to mine closures present the greatest opportunity for increasing productivity and saving energy. Research is also needed on water-quality issues related to mine closures, which are often challenging and costly to address for all types of mining.

ROLE OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

The committee agrees with previous NRC studies (e.g., NRC, 1995c) indicating that the federal government has important roles in nearly all areas of basic and applied research and in fundamental technology development (Sidebar 8-2).



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