Bhubaneswar, May 20: Though an important economic activity, mining presents a basketful of environmental concerns with long term significance but remedial measures are available though application of modern technologies, an expert in the field said on Monday.
“Technology for safe mining is available, then what are we waiting for?”, Prof. K.A. Natarajan, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Materials Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, said while speaking as the chief guest at a national conference on ‘Green Technology for Clean Environment’ at the SOA Deemed to be University here.
The seminar, which has attracted scientists, researchers, academicians and entrepreneurs has been organised by the Biofuel and Bioprocessing Research Centre (BBRC) at the SOA Deemed to be University.
Listing the environmental concerns in mining, Prof. Natarajan said cyanide in aqueous discharges from mills and heap leach operations, disposal of waste with Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) potential, treatment of high volume ground water and mine water containing low concentrations of metal and other contaminations were cause for worry.
Besides, disposal of iron-arsenic wastes and precipitates, treatment of water containing thiosalts, ammonia and nitrates, settling of suspended particulars in process streams and degradation of organics were other problems to be dealt with, he said.
Odisha, he said, was one of foremost mineral rich states in the country where application of advanced technology to abate pollution and protect the environment needed urgent attention. Stating that he had visited the mines in Sukinda area several times, Prof. Natarajan said ARD was a potential problem area in the region as chromium had entered the ground water there.
In the USA, Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) and other toxins from abandoned mines had polluted 180,000 acres of reservoirs and lakes and 12,000 miles of streams and rivers, he said adding cleaning up these polluted water bodies would cost the government between 32 to 72 billion US dollars.
Biotechnology could be applied for environmental control in two ways—active and passive. In active treatment, a biotech plant was engineered and operated to maximize pollution mitigation by optimizing activity of microbiological species involved, Prof. Natarajan said.
Passive systems relied on activity of biological species within a natural setting and involved aerobic precipitation, anaerobic sulfide precipitation, ammonia generated neutralization, absorption and ion exchange.
The seminar was presided over by the SOA Vice-Chancellor Prof. Amit Banerjee who referred to the damages inflicted on the environment by cyclone ‘Fani’ early this month while pointing out that reclamation could be achieved by using the right technology. He said the Centre for Environment and Climate (CEC) at SOA had come up with the most accurate prediction about the time of landfall of the cyclone.
Prof. P.K.Nanda, Dean (Research and Development) of SOA, addressed the seminar as guest of honour while Prof. Lala Behari Sukla, Convenor of the seminar and Director of BBRC, Dr. Abanti Pradhan, Co-convenor and Dr. Aditya Kishore Dash, Organising Secretary of the event also spoke.