Mine Waste Remediation to Create Sustainable Development
Centuries of past mining and smelting at thousands of locations around the world have left a sad legacy of environmental degradation and pollution impacting ecosystems and the people who live nearby. GPI believes that there are unique opportunities to undo some of the worst impacts by cleaning up mine and smelter wastes at the same time as valuable minerals are recovered from the wastes, providing not only a better environment, but also a basis for generating new sustainable businesses.
Isolating wastes from the ecosystem alone can provide substantial long-term health benefits, but these wastes locally contain usable metals that can be recovered at the same time through modern metallurgical techniques. A few companies are working to recover metals from mine tailings in the Americas and elsewhere, but restoring the environment and creating local sustainable businesses are not their primary goals.
Smelter slags present similar opportunities, and tin smelter slags in particular have been used to recover rare earth elements and other critical metals. We are hoping to test our model at tin mines and smelters in Bolivia, for example, where poverty is extreme and the legacy of past exploitation is heavy on the land. We hope to work with government agencies, local cooperatives, and other NGOs in a three-year program to prove the concept and make our vision a reality.