By Martin C. Benson
The Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMMC), a subsidiary of the Avesoro Resources, has taken a significant step to install the necessary environmental safeguards to avoid emitting harmful chemicals into nearby rivers and streams used by communities living downstream of the mining operations.
This corrective action follows the spillage of the Tailing Tank at the New Liberty Gold Mines (NLGM) resulting in the pollution of nearby streams in the local communities of Jikando, Korma Wiaja and Malina, in Gola Konneh District, Grand Cape Mount County.
Briefing journalists on the methods taken by the company to avoid cyanide and other chemicals used in extracting minerals from rocks from polluting the environment, the technical manager of NLGM, Roland Degreef, said a beach called Tailing Storage Facility (TSF) was developed.
Degreef admitted that although the design work and construction of the TSF are cost intensive, they are the best strategies for preventing environmental pollution.
He said the TSF is a “wetland built to help polish all used water before releasing it into the environment.”
He explained that after extracting the gold from the rock using water and chemicals including cyanide, the slurry, prior to being discharged into the TSF, must undergo two detoxification processes – that is, from the stockpile to the crusher, then onward to the gold pregnant solution, where all of the solid materials are separated.
The cyanide content which is applied to help in the extraction of gold, when released into the environment, can be harmful to flora and fauna, he said.
Conscious of the negative effects of cyanide on the environment, Degreef said the detoxification methods adopted by the company in keeping with international mining standards is done by using the Carbon In Leach (CIL) tanks and the slurry, which are the remnants from the rock that was crushed and is channeled to the TSF. This is achieved by applying what is known as In-leaching, that is, taking gold from the carbon, and leaching, which is taking carbon from the gold.
Degreef emphasized that these processes are to ensure that no poisonous gas is emitted into the air and all chemicals used in the processing of the gold after the crushing of rocks are detoxified.
Bea Mountain said it embarked on this complex method after the unfortunate problem created last year following the spillage of waste from the mining operations in Kinjor into Mervoe River thus affecting the three aforementioned surrounding villages.
The TSF beach is technically spread over the Mervoe River with channels of fresh water passages embedded beneath the TSF. Fresh water from upstream, in the pain-stock drain, passes beneath the TSF, and the TSF is protected by a drywall made of slurry and a second defense wall made of laterite, which helps to keep the drywall stable, he said.
“The water from the TSF is channeled through a series of slabs and is then sent back to the TSF. It is the fresh water passing beneath the TSF by way of the pains-stock drain that is discharged into the environment,” he explained.
To ensure that this new facility operates in line with international mining standards, Degreef said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) takes a regular sample for testing and works in close collaboration with resident environmental experts at the mines and those hired as the need arises.
At the TSF head office, there is an agriculture demonstration site, where plants are grown to determine whether products ending up at the TSF beach are environmentally unfriendly or have an adverse effect on flora and fauna in the vicinity, he said.
Degreef said Bea Mountain in collaboration with Avesoro has undertaken the TSF project to make mining at New Liberty Mine a world class venture and void of any trace of environmental pollution.