New innovation converts mine drainage into drinking water

INNOVATIVE THINKER: Global Aquatica’s Sam Costin is looking forward to changing the ways in which the mining industry use their waste water and assisting in combating the drought.
INNOVATIVE THINKER: Global Aquatica’s Sam Costin is looking forward to changing the ways in which the mining industry use their waste water and assisting in combating the drought. Allan Reinikka Rokaforum

ZILZIE'S Sam Costin could hold the key to a major breakthrough in the usage of mine water during this record-breaking drought.

The local civil engineer and managing director of Global Aquatica, a $5 million self-funded company, has spent the past four years researching and developing an innovative technology that converts acid mine drainage into drinkable water.

Sam was one of the few hundred people who attended the Advance Queensland regional forum at CQUniversity yesterday to hear Science and Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch speak about the State Government's $180 million initiative surrounding innovative research.

Sam said he'd worked in conjunction with Australian universities and mining companies to create the ground-breaking technology.

"The technology converts the acid mine drainage that's produced by most of the mining industry in Australia into quality drinking water that can be sent off to neighbouring farms and used for irrigation," he said.

"To an extent, this could assist with the drought problem, it won't solve it but it will help because most of these mines which produce this drainage are in marginal agricultural areas. We are actually producing between one to six million litres a day of irrigation water which the farmers can use.

"We also convert the contaminants in the water into recyclable products, very valuable synthetic, high-purity products which we sell and export overseas. In most cases we share the profits of that with the mining companies so the mining companies are now earning a profit from eradicating their waste water."

Sam, a skilled water engineer with more than 35 years of experience, said the company was currently working with two mines in the area with another 30 mines shortlisted.

"We started off by asking the mining companies what they really wanted and it had a lot to do with solving the problem no one else has in the last 50 years," he said.

"The EPAs tell us there's over 18,000 acid mine drainage product sites in Australia and there's about 300,000 in USA alone so we have a big task ahead of us. Just because we've gone to market it doesn't stop our innovation and research and some of this funding would be very helpful to the ongoing research needed to stay ahead of the pack.

"We've developed totally new processes in order to solve this problem but we are still at the first stage."

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga said the Premier's Advance Queensland project was important for CQUniversity and the CQ region.

"I've known about this program for a number of months and I've been working with CQUniversity and councils because I can see that this program has amazing opportunities for CQ," Mrs Lauga said.

"Sam has come up with an amazing technology that has the capacity to change the world and that is being developed right here in CQ.

"This program is about fostering those great ideas, nurturing them, putting them on the market, exporting them and making sure that CQ is the place where these jobs are grown and developed."

Advance Queensland:

$50 million Advance Queensland Best and Brightest Fund, which will develop, attract and retain world-class talent both scientific and entrepreneurial

$46 million Advance Queensland Future Jobs Strategy that will open the door to new industry/research collaborations, tackle the big innovation challenges, focus on translation, and deliver 10 year roadmaps for industries with global growth potential

$76 million Business Investment Attraction package, which will encourage a new wave of Queensland start-ups, support proof of concept projects and attract co-investment through the Business Development Fund.

Topics:  engineering technology water

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