Health concerns on the water flowing through closed mine sites are rising due to the likelihood of extreme environmental damage. Heavy metals brought to the surface of the Earth during mining operations are being exposed to air and water and undergoing a chemical reaction via microbial interactions to produce acidic and metalliferous drainage.
My current research project, conducted in collaboration with the Cooperative Research Centre Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC TiME), is analysing water and biofilm samples sourced from a legacy mine site in Western Australia. By investigating the taxonomic and functional gene changes over a heavy metal contamination gradient, I aspire to unravel the intricate relationships between microorganisms and their response to environmental stressors. Uncovering efficient closure methods is high in demand around the world and there is large potential for Australia to become world leaders in sustainable mining practices.