Evaluating Contaminant Management Technologies for Application in Mine Waste Rock

Brooke Adey, Adam Cojocar, Melanie Dahal, Alec LaPointe

  • Community Partner: Professor Wenying Liu, UBC Department of Materials Engineering
  • Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Program:
  • Campus: Vancouver

Our project 

Mining plays a critical role in our daily lives, as minerals and metals serve as the foundation for virtually all human goods. However, there are significant adverse environmental impacts that can arise from mining. In Elk Valley, B.C., one prominent concern with regional coal mining activities is the release of contaminants from waste rock piles. Our project holistically explored the use of dry cover systems and organic amendments to prevent sulphide oxidation and metal leaching from waste rock piles.  

Our inspiration 

The general theme of the project aligns with the changes that the broader engineering discipline around the world must undergo in the next decades to create a sustainable world.  

Our biggest challenge 

Often there was a lack of specific technical information in the literature that could have been useful for our analysis. This was the case because some of the technologies we evaluated have not been tested at full scale or for significant amounts of time. Another reason for the lack of information is that the topic of our project is a sensitive one in terms of public image for mining companies, who may not want to publish data about the negative environmental impacts that their activities can have.  

What excited us most 

The opportunity to work closely with a world-class expert on the topic, as well as to learn about the issues that global resource companies can face and how those challenges present in the real world so close to home.  

The most interesting/surprising thing we learned 

The sheer number of variables that must be taken into account when designing a system that will interface so much with the environment is astonishing.  

Our project’s future 

Our project evaluated four technologies for managing mine waste rock. Our recommendation was for further research into two of the technologies, dry cover systems and organic amendments. These technologies showed robust social, economic and environmental benefits. 

UBC materials engineering student at a co-op placement at Vector Aerospace

Materials Engineering

What’s it made of and why? If you ask these questions about the products that surround you or dream about creating the building blocks for substances that haven’t yet been invented, you should explore materials engineering.

Materials Engineering

Discover Student Experiences

UBC Applied Science students are people who are passionate about their chosen field — architecture, landscape architecture, community and regional planning, engineering and nursing — and those that inspire others by making meaningful contributions to the betterment of society.

Browse Student and Alumni Spotlights
UBC Crest The official logo of the University of British Columbia. Arrow An arrow indicating direction. Arrow in Circle An arrow indicating direction. Caret An arrowhead indicating direction. E-commerce Cart A shopping cart. Time A clock. Chats Two speech clouds. Facebook The logo for the Facebook social media service. Social Media The globe is the default icon for a social media platform. TikTok The logo for the TikTok social media platform. Calendar Location Home A house in silhouette. Information The letter 'i' in a circle. Instagram The logo for the Instagram social media service. Linkedin The logo for the LinkedIn social media service. Location Pin A map location pin. Mail An envelope. Telephone An antique telephone. Play A media play button. Search A magnifying glass. Arrow indicating share action A directional arrow. Speech Bubble A speech bubble. Star An outline of a star. Twitter The logo for the Twitter social media service. Urgent Message An exclamation mark in a speech bubble. User A silhouette of a person. Vimeo The logo for the Vimeo video sharing service. Youtube The logo for the YouTube video sharing service. Future of work A logo for the Future of Work category. Inclusive leadership A logo for the Inclusive leadership category. Planetary health A logo for the Planetary health category. Solutions for people A logo for the Solutions for people category. Thriving cities A logo for the Thriving cities category. University for future A logo for the University for future category.