In most countries, mining companies are required to follow stringent environmental and rehabilitation codes in order to minimize environmental impact and avoid impacts on human health. Even with this regulation and oversight, the impacts are substantial.
In 2004 alone, domestic mining operations were responsible for the release of 1.7 billion pounds of toxic metal waste into the environment. Most of this material is contained in tailing ponds, bodies of water containing liquid effluents or wastewater separated out during the processing of mineral ores. Due to the technical difficulties associated with isolating the metals present in this water, reprocessing of the effluents to increase mine yields is generally not performed.
Because of the ease of use, high binding capacity, and rapid kinetics of the binding of the majority of these metals to Periodic Products’ polymer compounds, the use of these materials in the treatment of these effluents represents a significant advance in both reducing the environmental impact of these tailing ponds and increasing the yield of metals recovered from these mining operations.