by Jack Caldwell
I had never previously turned my mind to acid rock drainage. The topic seemed so large and so chemical that I was intimidated. So this review is the product of one new to the field and entirely unacquainted with its history, politics, and lore. I would be delighted to hear from you if you feel I have ignored or misrepresented your work. I would be delighted to hear from you if you feel I got the wrong end of the stick on a particular topic. Actually rather than write me, simply write an e-paper for InfoMine and I will post it in our library and reference it one of the pages of TechnoMine.
A general comment on the conference papers: they are too long and too sloppily written to warrant accolades. Most scream of their genesis: an abstract written to justify attending the conference and then not revised after the paper was written; a paper that is a blatant replica of the technical report on the work; and a conclusion that often seems to have nothing to do with the abstract or body of the paper-no doubt the conclusion was written in haste at the last and could not be lifted from the original report.
I peer reviewed some of the papers and said much the same: too long, too much like the original report, and ill-connected from abstract, through body, to conclusion. I appear to have been ignored, for the final papers carry the sins I sought to expurgate. Maybe the field is just too small for truly incisive, insightful peer review.
Just because the proceedings are electronic and there is no commercial incentive to brevity, should not justify long-winded, unfocussed, report-like papers. The essence of a paper as compared to a report, it that the author has sought to boil things down to the essentials, focus on results, and connect findings to a larger world. If we wanted to read the reports, we would get the reports. A technical paper should open a window, challenge our thinking, excite us, and push us forward more informed and with greater understanding of the bigger picture. Very few of these papers sought to do this -- net alone achieved it.
Not knowing the topic before this, I cannot really judge if the papers report great advances, new options, breakthroughs, or conceptual leaps. To me is seems simple: we can characterize, we can model, we can predict reasonably well, we know what to do to avoid acid drainage, and we have to control acid drainage or we will break the financial back of mining companies, societies, and future generations.
Maybe some ore deposits simply should not be developed. If the potential for acid drainage impact is too great or the future cost of controlling seepage from the resultant waste is too high, then the holistic cost of the mine cannot be justified on the basis of short-term shareholder profit. Clearly mining can be undertaken and waste disposed of in a way that acid drainage does not pollute the surrounding watershed for generations to come; maybe only those mines that can replicate past successes should be opened and operated.
When I wrote this survey, I did not come across the solutions offered by BioteQ Environmental Technologies. Let me now rectify that.
Their website provides a comprehensive overview of their technologies. Applications include the Caribou Mine in New Brunswick, the Company, the Raglan Mine in Quebec and the Bisbee Mine in Arizona.
BioteQ is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX-V) with the symbol "BQE". Information for potential investors is readily available in their annual reports. They paint a picture of a company and an industry that is booming.
As Time would have it all news is made by individuals not by some mysterious process. So here are potted biographies of the fellows who are making this happen:
- Brad Marchant is a specialist in mineral processing and biohydrometallugy research, development and operations.
- Richard Lawrence is a specialist in acid rock drainage, biohydrometallurgy, mining environmental management, and mine water treatment.
- David Kratochvil is a chemical engineer, specializing in biotechnology and water treatment.
- John York is a Chartered Accountant who served as Vice-President of finance for junior listed companies, including Zamora Gold and Battlefield Minerals Corp.
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