While working as a research fellow at the University of Exeter’s Camborne School of Mines, Pete Whitbread-Abrutat was the mining-environmental scientist in a three-year, research and capacity-building project funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID). Working in close collaboration with the British Geological Survey and the Government of Thailand’s Department of Mineral Resources, the project investigated mining-related arsenic soil contamination around a village in southern Thailand where arsenism had become a serious public health issue. Arsenic had been mobilised by previous hard rock and surface mining activities for cassiterite (tin); although the mines by now were abandoned, their negative legacies persisted.
The project aimed to research the potential for using nationally-sourced industrial minerals, specifically diatomite, in the in-situ remediation of soil arsenic to enable the productive re-use of the land. The research programme involved contaminated land investigations in rural parts of southern Thailand, designing associated laboratory and field-based mitigation experiments, including the design and setting up of a long-term, field-based soil sampling programme and the fabrication and installation of in-situ, soil pore water samplers, and long-term, lab-based, column-leaching experiments in the UK and Thailand.
A primary objective throughout the project was capacity-building and technology transfer with Thai Government personnel, which involved hands-on demonstration and training, both in the field and in the lab, and an end of project workshop to Thai nationals.
A project overview and related documents are available through this link.