IT'S been tried and failed before, but one company is growing increasingly confident it can not only rehabilitate the old Mt Morgan mine site, but turn it into a viable and profitable operation.
Carbine Resources Ltd has conducted progressive derisking and scoping studies since acquiring the project a year ago and is now preparing a pre-feasibility study.
At 33 years old, executive director Patrick Walta says he's part of the Gen Y who don't ask why something can't be done.
His "lemons into lemonade" approach could see the old mine site turn a profit from the toxic tailings of 100 years of mining history.
According to Mr Walta, the key is in the metallurgy and Carbine's award-winning extraction technology to uncover the gold in the mine tailings.
With a million ounces of gold at the surface, already crushed to 150 microns, Mr Walta says it makes for a "pretty cheap operation" and a process to float and concentrate pyrite from 40 million tonnes of tailings would make it economically viable.
"Pyrite is the crux of the environmental issue," Mr Walta said.
"Exposed to air over time, the pyrite leaches and forms sulphuric acid and if we can remove it from the tailings, that would stop a lot of problems."
Pyrite is an economic product in itself with many applications, which means in Carbine's approach, the source of the problem becomes part of the solution and allows the company to economically rehabilitate the mine site.
"This would allow us to operate, even in a falling economy," Mr Walta said.
"The work we've done so far has been really positive… everything we've done points to a winner, but there are still hurdles to jump over."
In the best case scenario, Carbine Resources hopes to make a decision to mine in the next 12 months.
The mine would create 60 direct jobs and three to four times that in indirect jobs.
"We're talking about a million tonnes per year, which is a medium to large mine, but there's still a long way to go," Mr Walta said.
"We need to raise $80 million to get to production and rehabilitation as soon as possible.
"Our biggest risk is the collapse of the financial markets."
Rockhampton Regional Council pledged its full support for Carbine Resources after Mr Walta presented an update to yesterday's performance and service committee meeting.
"There are so many boxes that this project would tick if it could all come together," Mayor Margaret Strelow said.
"I commend this measured approach to bring life back into the mine and if there is anything council can do to provide further support, we will do that."