Biggest gold miner company to study direct air carbon capture in its mine tailings

April 09, 2023 | Metallurgical Lab

Newmont, the world’s biggest gold miner is in the works with the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to study novel approaches for direct air isolation of carbon dioxide in their mine tailings.

Direct air isolation is a technology that captures carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere and is crucial in terms of counterbalancing hard-to-decarbonize sectors. NREL is working on several components of the technology to utilize in meeting net-zero emissions goals in the United States.

Through a 3-year project worth $4.3 million, the project will explore rapid electrochemical mineralization to form the dolomite (REMineD) method, to advance the development of carbon dioxide removal technologies. The project is co-funded by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management Technology Commercialization Fund. The project is seen to be a key player in meeting global climate goals.

Along with Newmont’s metallurgical services laboratory, the project will be collaborating with the University of California Los Angeles, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the Missouri University of Science and Technology in the leadership of NREL.

Newmont's use of the ReMineD method will follow carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) that will play a role in converting carbonate minerals in sequestered tailing into durable products that can replace CO₂-intensive concrete. The process of CCUS is significant in carbon-neutralizing hard-to-abate emissions. Moreover, the ReMineD process final product of dolomite or pozzolans (such as silica) is deemed to aid in cutting down the carbon footprint of concrete production.

“Waste rock and tailings are the largest components of residues from our mining operations, and the work for direct air capture of CO2 through tailings carbonation provides a unique opportunity to reduce our and others’ emissions throughout the value chain.”, says Frank Roberto, Director of Processing at Newmonth in a press release.

Currently, resources developed from the REMineD are designed to be deployed onsite at remote mining locations. Through this, efficient ways to develop dolomite aggregate from various tailings may be done and generate additional revenue from further valuable rare earth elements recovery.

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