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Waste not, want not

Industry can save money and protect environment: soil scientist

Research | Frameworks in Action

By Jeff Green

Saving money and creating a cleaner, greener environment.

That’s the vision Dr. Joinal Abedin has for Labrador. For him, opportunities in his adopted home are as immense as the Big Land itself. The soil scientist at the Labrador Institute is heading up a new project that could dramatically change the mining industry and, in turn, help keep harmful pollutants from seeping into surface water.

Labrador resources

Dr. Abedin is studying the effectiveness of biochar, a centuries-old practice of turning forestry waste into a soil enhancer. With mega-projects such as the Lower Churchill hydroelectric development well underway in Central Labrador, forests are being harvested to make room for progress. He wants to see that waste wood used to produce biochar.

“The outcomes of this research could affect future generations for years to come.” –Dr. Joinal Abedin

Doing so would be beneficial to another longstanding and economic vital industry in Labrador: mining. As exploration of sulfide-bearing ore continues, waste rock turns into sulphuric acid known as acid mining drainage (AMD) when it’s combined with water and air. AMD is harmful to fish and other aquatic life.

Economical and sustainable

Adding biochar to mine waste is a no-brainer, contends Dr. Abedin. If it were, it could offer an economically viable and sustainable solution for managing sulfidic mine waste, preventing Labrador’s vital and rich natural ecosystem from being contaminated.

That innovative research is important to industry—and future generations—of the Big Land.

It’s also the kind of work that defines Memorial’s leadership when it comes to world-class research addressing provincial, national and international issues.

Funder: Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador

This article is part of a bi-weekly collection of research profiles celebrating the contributions of Memorial researchers. Be sure to check back for future profiles.


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