Plasma Mine Waste Solution An Alternative, Says Engineer
Used in several mining projects in the country – the Deep Sea Tailings Placement (DSTP) option is currently being sought as the viable option in the upcoming Wafi-Golpu mining project in Morobe Province.
The existing mines that are using the DSTP option include Lihir gold mine and Simberi gold mine in New Ireland, Ramu Nickel mine in Madang and Misima gold mine in Milne Bay province.
The argument circulating is the practice, DSTP, may be a hazard to the marine life and coastal habitat later however the mentioned existing mines have undertaken various marine tests to determine its safe usage in the sea and have further provided research papers with awareness to justify their case studies to areas concerned.
A Papua New Guinean waste management engineer says the DSTP should not be accepted as the best mine tailings waste management alternative to land based waste management because there are other more efficient and effective methods and options used around the world in the last thirty years.
Local engineering entrepreneur Thompson Benguma, a waste management engineer by profession, has been promoting another option known as the Plasma Waste Converter Technology in the country.
He says this technology can be used as an alternative to land based mine waste management and DSTP.
Mr Benguma said the Plasma Waste Converter does not manage waste only but it will convert the waste material into other useful products whilst destroying the toxic chemicals contained within the mine tailings.
He said this is an on-site waste remediation and management alternative which means there is no need to transport mine waste from where it is produced to the backyard of other people.
“Waste is now considered a resource that can be processed into other useful products,” he said. Accordingly, Mr Benguma explains that the Plasma Waste Converter comprises a cylindrical vessel with a wall thickness of 12 inches.
“From the roof of the vessel a carbon electrode is inserted. This carbon electrode is connected to the three phase power supply.
When the power is switched on, the electrical energy is converted into heat energy inside the plasma chamber, creating a temperature up to 14,000 °c in the center of the vessel and reduces to 2,500°c at the periphery or wall of the vessel.
Under this condition, when the mine tailings waste is pumped in, the high temperature and the ultra violet light dissociates the molecular structure of the waste material and what comes out is a useful has called syngas and solid known as plasma rock both of which have end uses.”
He is now asking the government to consider making it a law in the country for mining companies to incorporate the Plasma Waste Converter into the Mine Tailings Waste Management. This method of managing mine tailings, he argues, is environmentally friendly and self-sustaining.