Tackling mine wastes for a better environment

Morocco, like many other countries with large mining sectors, is increasingly concerned about the ecological problems that mine wastes can cause, particularly around abandoned mines. A better understanding of how mine wastes pollute water and land has identified a need to determine what these impacts are and how best to manage industrial waste produced by the mining industry. Failing to do so magnifies the problem. Morocco is not the only country that is facing this challenge. Unfortunately, the lack of adapted technologies and resources to reclaim land, in semi-arid countries, has been a major reason for inaction.

The research 

The research brings together an array of partners: government agencies in Canada and Morocco, universities, research laboratories, and mining companies. The main goal of the projects is to train highly qualified personnel in the area of mining and to reduce the negative impacts of mine wastes through developing cost-effective treatment and rehabilitation methods. The specific objectives of the project are to:

  • Create a Centre for advanced technology in mining and industrial waste in Morocco;
  • train graduate students and promote knowledge exchange with industrial and government agencies;
  • develop a comprehensive database of abandoned and operating mines, wastes, geological and geographical features, and estimates of the impact on the environment and water resources particularly;
  • develop cost-effective ways to contain and manage the waste, as well as reclaim mine sites;
  • conduct impact assessments of abandoned or active mines on the health of local populations;
  • support mine operators in developing efficient waste management strategies that respect Moroccan and international norms; and
  • disseminate research results widely (e.g., research community, government officials, media).

Expected outcomes 

The project aims to:

  • sensitize governments, industry, and citizens to the impact of mining waste on the environment and health of local communities;

  • develop effective methods to control mine waste pollution;
  • generate mine site rehabilitation techniques;
  • transfer knowledge on mining waste management to mine operators and government agencies in developing countries with semi-arid climates;
  • train Canadian and Moroccan graduate students in the field of sustainable development in the mining sector; and
  • disseminate research results through various communications channels (e.g., websites, brochures, conference presentations, reports, journal articles).

Lead Researchers 

Rachid Hakkou

IDRC Research Chair in Management and Stabilization of Mining and Industrial Waste Université Cade Ayyad, Morocco 

Since 1996, Rachid Hakkou has been a teacher-researcher at the Université Cadi Ayyad where he is responsible for the "Mining Environment" module in the Earth Sciences Department and the "Industrial Chemicals" module in the Chemical Sciences Department. He has also been an Associate Professor at the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Canada since 2006.

Rachid Hakkou holds a doctorate from the Institut National Polytechnique de Lorraine, France, in geosciences and raw materials, as well as an advanced doctoral degree (doctorat d’État) in waste management and treatment from Université Cadi Ayyad, Faculté des Sciences et Techniques de Marrakech.. He is a member of the international peer review board for the journal Mine Water and the Environment. His research interests focus on the management of mining wastes, and in particular on methods for restoring mine sites.

Mostafa Benzaazoua

Canada Research Chair on Integrated Management of MineWaste Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Canada 

Mostafa Benzaazoua has been a Full Professor and researcher at Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue since 1997. He is also an Associate Professor at McGill University and at the École Polytechnique de Montréal. He holds a master’s degree in earth sciences from Université de Nancy and a DESS (advanced scientific studies diploma) in subsoil resource enrichment from the Nancy School of Geology, France. He holds a doctorate in geosciences from the Institut National Polytechnique de Lorraine, France.

In 2003, Mostafa Benzaazoua was named the Canada Research Chair in Integrated Management of Mine Waste. His field of expertise embraces geochemistry and mineralogy applied to the mining environment and the management of mining wastes. He is also very active in the transfer of knowledge and in training highly qualified personnel.

Project ID

104519-007

Project status

Active

Start Date

Monday, June 1, 2009

End Date

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Duration

60 months

IDRC Officer

O`Brien, Mr. David

Total funding

CA$ 1,000,000

Country(s)

Morocco, Canada, France

Project Leader

Rachid Hakkou

Project Leader

Mostafa Benzaazoua

Institution

Université Cadi Ayyad

Institution Country

Morocco