Offsetting of CO2 emissions by air capture in mine tailings at the Mount Keith Nickel Mine, Western Australia: Rates, controls and prospects for carbon neutral mining

Sasha Wilson, Anna L. Harrison, Gregory M. Dipple, Ian M. Power, Shaun L.L. Barker, K. Ulrich Mayer, Stewart J. Fallon, Mati Raudsepp, Gordon Southam

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    122 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The hydrated Mg-carbonate mineral, hydromagnesite [Mg5(CO3)4(OH)2·4H2O], precipitates within mine tailings at the Mount Keith Nickel Mine, Western Australia as a direct result of mining operations. We have used quantitative mineralogical data and δ13C, δ18O and F14C isotopic data to quantify the amount of CO2 fixation and identify carbon sources. Our radiocarbon results indicate that at least 80% of carbon stored in hydromagnesite has been captured from the modern atmosphere. Stable isotopic results indicate that dissolution of atmospheric CO2 into mine tailings water is kinetically limited, which suggests that the current rate of carbon mineralization could be accelerated. Reactive transport modeling is used to describe the observed variation in tailings mineralogy and to estimate rates of CO2 fixation. Based on our assessment, approximately 39,800t/yr of atmospheric CO2 are being trapped and stored in tailings at Mount Keith. This represents an offsetting of approximately 11% of the mine's annual greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, passive sequestration via enhanced weathering of mineral waste can capture and store a significant amount of CO2. Recommendations are made for changes to tailings management and ore processing practices that have potential to accelerate carbonation of tailings and further reduce or completely offset the net greenhouse gas emissions at Mount Keith and many other mines.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)121-140
    Number of pages20
    JournalInternational Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
    Volume25
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

    Fingerprint

    Dive into the research topics of 'Offsetting of CO2 emissions by air capture in mine tailings at the Mount Keith Nickel Mine, Western Australia: Rates, controls and prospects for carbon neutral mining'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this