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220921 - Martin Ralph

“The team at MRIWA embraced my research and put me at the heart of a vibrant network of like-minded researchers.”


Removal of naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) deposited in corrosion scale in mineral processing circuits (M10454)

Host University 

Edith Cowan University

The Challenge 

Over time, corrosion scale on steel mining infrastructure can absorb and concentrate radioactive materials that occur naturally at low background levels in ore and waste rock. This build-up can pose a risk to mining personnel or the local environment if released, increasing the cost of plant decommissioning and recycling.

Key Findings 

  • Filtration using a patented synthetic polypropylene geotextile material is able to capture over 90% of the radionuclides released by high-pressure water blasting of corrosion scale from contaminated mining equipment.
  • Measured radioactivity in post-filtration samples was reduced below the environmental reference level for further institutional controls on release.
  • Once the corrosion scale is removed, approximately 84% of the steel mass in tested infrastructure can be recovered and sold as scrap for re-use, with the volume of waste requiring disposal reduced to 1.9% of the original volume.

Benefits to WA 

The geotextile filtration material validated through this research could support efficient removal and capture of naturally occurring radionuclides contaminating ageing mining equipment at sites across WA, significantly reducing the cost and environmental footprint of mine site decommissioning.

Link to thesis 

Martin’s thesis can be accessed from the ECU library via the link below:

Page was last reviewed 29 June 2023

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