Lesley Warren Lecture

20 February 2019
Fox Lecture Theatre, Arts Building, UWA
General Public, Faculty/Staff, Students, Alumni

Book a seat


Mining Waste Environments: globally significant and growing biogeochemical hotspots

A public lecture by Professor Lesley A. Warren, Director, Lassonde Institute of Mining, University of Toronto and UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

Globally, extractive industries are estimated to produce 7.2 billion tons of waste and use 7-9 billion cubic metres of water; creating one of the fastest growing and least well studied biogeochemical contexts on the planet. Tailings, containing reactive sulfur, iron, nitrogen and carbon compounds, represent the largest global mining environmental liability. Currently, it is difficult for mines to design tailings impoundments or develop effective management and reclamation approaches, because the microbial processes that generate impacts remain a black box. However, as mining landscapes continue to grow world-wide, the fundamental lessons learned in these contexts are also required to better inform our understanding of global biogeochemical cycling.

In this lecture, Professor Warren will present results from both metal and oil sands mining contexts, where we have begun to address this knowledge gap through the joint application of genomics and geochemistry. Research to date provides fascinating glimpses of extensive and often surprising biogeochemical cycling within these environments, as well as distinctive microbial communities that interactively shape biogeochemical outcomes.

Dr Lesley Warren leads the Lassonde Institute of Mining at the University of Toronto as Managing Director and Chief Principal Investigator. She also holds the Claudette Mackay-Lassonde Chair in Mineral Engineering in the Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering at the University of Toronto. She has an internationally recognized track record of integrated geochemical and microbiological investigation in mining wastewater and reclamation contexts. As a leading expert, she has partnered with numerous energy and mining industry companies, consortiums and governmental agencies around the globe. Dr. Warren’s work is breaking new ground and helping strengthen the mining industry today and into the future.

As Chief Principal Investigator at Lassonde, her research develops transformative industry advancements for water and tailings strategies through integration of geochemistry with emerging molecular biological techniques. Some of her current research projects partner with Glencore, Hudbay, Rambler Metals, and Syncrude to develop new biologically integrated management, mitigation and reclamation strategies that will be more sustainable, efficient and cost effective.

The Lassonde Institute of Mining is a global leader in interdisciplinary mining research and industry-academic partnerships. Linking world-renowned Principal Investigators from engineering, applied sciences, earth sciences, physics, finance, law and public policy, the Lassonde Institute pioneers practical technologies. With world-class facilities, the Lassonde Institute provides unparalleled opportunities for students, researchers and the mining community and trains the future mining leaders of tomorrow.

Professor Warren is a 2019 UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.