Dark horses and mine decomissioning Wheeland, Kenneth G.
The decommissioning of mines which generate acid drainage is an expensive and uncertain task. The national Mine Environment Neutral Drainage (MEND) program has estimated the total cost in Canada at $3-5 billion over the next two decades, and has further identified that we have a minimal amount of the technology we require to carry out the task. Appropriately, the first efforts are aimed at increasing our confidence in "conventional" approaches, by developing the necessary field data, engineering guidelines and modelling techniques. However, the costs associated with perpetual treatment of elaborate encasing systems will still be extremely high. Now it is time to give full attention to the identification, screening and pragmatic development of "unconventional" approaches. Key areas where better ideas are needed include prediction, pretreatment, passivation, placement, packaging and post-treatment.
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