ICMGP - Abstract

ICMGP Workshops
ICMGP Workshops

Presenter Name: Reinhard Schmidt
Co-Presenters/Co-authors: Alejandro Castilla

Abstract Information :

Mercury can be found in the form of elemental (or metallic) mercury, inorganic mercury compounds, and organic mercury compounds in e.g. sludge, tailings or contaminated soils/sites. Furthermore, as per UNEP, certain businesses emit more mercury than others, with artisanal and small-scale gold mining, non-ferrous metal manufacturing, large-scale gold production, and cement manufacture accounting for the majority of total emissions.

Dealing with mercury waste can result in a slew of issues and concerns. Due to the Basel Convention, waste disposal alternatives are limited. Moving mercury carries a number of concerns, and securing permissions is challenging.

Mercury wastes should be processed locally to reduce the problem. Local treatment has multiple benefits such as an increase in qualified jobs, independence, know-how, and transparency. Not to mention the transportation savings, reduced CO2 emissions, and reduced transportation risks that may be achieved.

Certain technologies are already in use now and may be classified into three categories:
1. Indirectly heated thermal distillation units that operate at low temperature, capable of separating elemental mercury from the soil and sludges
2. High-temperature treatment units for mercury compound removal from spent activated carbon and catalysts
3. Mercury conversion units for the effective conversion of elemental mercury into mercury sulphide (cinnabar)
The first method works on the basis of vacuum distillation to extract evaporable components from waste streams (i.e. water, mercury, hydrocarbons, etc.). It may be used to separate elemental mercury from a solid matrix in a fully enclosed system with no emissions to the environment. Mercuric compounds may be separated using the second approach, resulting in mercury-free catalysts that can be delivered to downstream metal reclamation. Finally, to produce mercury sulphide, elemental sulphur is mixed with elemental mercury using the third technology. Should it be necessary, this method enables the safe ultimate disposal of what was formerly elemental mercury. These technologies are developed in response to distinct geographical requirements. They limit mercury concerns and reduce the complicated, demanding, and costly necessity of exporting waste abroad.

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