The environmental consequences of marine tailing disposal in fjord ecosystems are of a highly complex nature, where physical, chemical and biological parameters need to be considered for assessing the potential risk. To account for this complexity, we have selected an approach which integrates physicochemical characterization of the studied tailings, their effects on key species of the planktonic food web in fjord ecosystems, and the exposure of individuals through spreading and transport models:
The work has been divided into four work packages (WPs).
WP leader: NTNU (Dr. Tomasz Ciesieslski). Participating: SINTEF.
Aim: Study the properties of the mine tailings used in this project, with special focus on the fine particle fraction, flocculation processes, metal bioavailability and the presence of mining chemicals.
Tasks in WP1 include characterization of particles (quantification, size, shape) and sedimentation processes, metal composition in tailings and the fine particulate fractions, as well as analyses of relevant processing chemical concentrations.
WP2. Effect studies
WP leader: Nord University (Prof. Pål A. Olsvik) and SINTEF (Dr. Julia Farkas). Participating: DEBtox Research, NTNU, Biotrix.
Aim: Assess the effects of mine tailings on copepods and early life stages of fish and generate input data for the modelling tasks in WP3.
Tasks in WP2 include development of DEB models for two test species and to conduct ecotoxicological tests to identify adverse outcome pathway (AoP) biomarkers, and to link AoPs into DEB models.
WP3. Transport, exposure and effect modelling for risk assessment
WP leader: SINTEF (Dr. Raymond Nepstad). Participating: University of Chile, DEBtox Research.
Aim: Integrate data from WP1 and WP2 into numerical models to estimate individual and population-level relevant consequences of mine tailing disposal and evaluate mitigating measures.
In WP3, tasks include development of models for the prediction of transport and fate of mine tailing particles and bioparticles in fjords, and to use DEB models to simulate population-level impacts of tailings.
A dedicated work package has been established to maximize internal communication and external dissemination of the project results to stakeholders.