Sudbury·Audio

Researcher probes whether wood waste can help remediate mine tailings

New research out of Laurentain University could lead to win-win for the mining and the forest industries.

Laurentian University's Living with Lakes Centre brings two industries together in new study

Jessica Arteaga is a PhD student at Laurentian University who is looking into using wood sludge to remediate mine tailings. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

New research out of Laurentain University could lead to a win-win situation for the mining and the forest industries.

PhD student Jessica Arteaga is looking into using wood sludge to remediate mine tailings.

The sludge consists of woody fibres produced as a byproduct of creating pulp. Arteaga said she hopes mixing the sludge into mine tailings will create a soil that plants can grow in.

"It has lots of benefits, especially when you're in an area that has mine tailings that are acid-generating," she said.

"It increases the PH. It helps bind those nasty metals that we're afraid ... will leave our water."

This is the sludge that gets mixed with mine tailings. It is woody pulp that is a byproduct of the pulp-and-paper-making process. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

Similar research has been done in southern Ontario, but her work will determine if the findings prove true in colder climates.

She noted the forestry industry uses a lot of their waste product, but "the reason that they can't use sludge is because of its high water content."

"So they're really excited to eliminate their ecological footprint," she said.

Arteaga's research is expected to be complete by 2019.

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