Yanacocha mine, in northern Peru’s Cajamarca region. (Image courtesy of Newmont.)
Newmont (TSX: NGT; NYSE: NEM), the world’s biggest gold miner, has partnered with the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to study a new approach for direct air sequestering of carbon in mine tailings.
The rapid electrochemical mineralization to form dolomite (REMineD) method will be explored in the three-year $4.3 million project. Co-funded by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management Technology Commercialization Fund, the project aims to advance the development of carbon dioxide removal technologies. It is seen as integral to meeting global climate goals.
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The NREL will lead the work with partners, including the University of California Los Angeles, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Missouri University of Science and Technology. Newmont’s metallurgical services laboratory in Englewood, Colorado, and its innovation, energy and decarbonization, water and tailings and dams teams will provide strategic support to the effort.
According to Newmont, carbon capture, utilization and sequestration (CCUS) is an emerging process that can be used to carbon-neutralize hard-to-abate emissions. Sequestered in tailings, carbonate minerals can be converted into durable products that replace CO2-intensive concrete used in construction. And dolomite or pozzolans (such as silica) produced through the REMineD process reduces the CO2 footprint of concrete.
Newmont’s director of processing, Frank Roberto, says CCUS in tailings supports a long-term direction for the mining industry. “Waste rock and tailings are the largest components of residues from our mining operations, and the work for direct air capture of CO2 through tailings carbonation provides a unique opportunity to reduce our and others’ emissions throughout the value chain,” Roberto said.
The resources developed by REMineD can be deployed on-site at remote mining locations. The process can result in faster and more efficient ways to develop the dolomite aggregate from various tailings and generate additional revenue streams from further valuable rare earth elements recovery.
It will also result in the production of more sustainable building materials, Newmont says.
Direct air capture is a technology that captures carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere and is a critical tool for counterbalancing hard-to-decarbonize sectors. It is shaping up to be a key component of meeting net-zero emissions goals in the U.S., according to the NREL.