Thursday, July 14, 2011

Australia’s mining mess remediated by biological boost

A ground breaking new technology could soon help one of the mining industries biggest environmental problems through plants tailored specifically to remove contaminants in waste process water. 

Australian company PolyGenomX has pioneered a method that delivers faster growth and higher yields from plants that can also be used to extract toxins from mining wastewater.

PolyGenomX managing director Peter Rowe says mining is one of the most important production activities in Australia, and the availability and proper management of water is key to its long-term sustainability.

“Process water from mines can contain a huge amount of salt and other contaminates that if not treated properly represent a major problem for surrounding ecosystems and in turn the industry as a whole,” Mr Rowe says.

“Treatment of process water can be expensive, particularly in remote areas, and in many cases the water cannot be recycled well enough for further use. 

“The range of PolyGenomX solutions are significantly different to what’s currently used as it’s primarily biological in nature and can even rehabilitate a mine site back to its pre-existing vegetative state.”

The core of the PolyGenomX technology is based around the activation of dormant parts of a plant’s DNA without genetically modifying it in any way.

The process essentially turbo charges certain naturally existing characteristics in a plant such as rapid growth properties and predispositions to thrive in various environments and soils.

“One of our many processes tailored to the mining industry is the ability to propagate trees that actively feed off salt and other contaminates, effectively stripping them out from the process water,” Mr Rowe says.
“This water can then be safely used to irrigate land and crops and even fed back into natural water courses without any recourse to the local ecosystem.

“Our technology provides water management practices that permit the mining industry to take a huge leap forward in efficient use of water resources.”

PolyGenomX has developed a number of other applications for plant use in the mining industry including controlling seepage from various areas on a site into the water table and solutions for holding ponds at the end of their life cycle.

It is currently in discussions to remediate a series of former mining sites that are presenting a number of environmental issues including the contamination of groundwater by chemicals leaching from mine tailings.
PolyGenomX is also considering the development of new bacteria-based soil-remediation technology in conjunction with the project.

Mr Rowe says the PolyGenomX technology can be adapted to a range of commercially produced crops including those used in renewable energy production and pulping through to construction and fine timber such as sandalwood.

“We have successfully developed a range of stable high-performance polygenomic species that grow faster and yield more than any comparable stock,” Mr Rowe says.

“We are able to offer a significant competitive advantage to our clients through unprecedented plant performance.

“This includes 30 percent plus faster plant growth and 30 percent plus reduction in production costs and cycles and enhanced environmental robustness.

“This all results in accelerated growth and production and significantly higher profits.”

The company will license the superior strains of plants developed to ethical producers, farmers and other partners involved in the production of commercial crops and environmental restoration.

PolyGenomX technology is a world first and has a patent pending.
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