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Better results for mine water treatment

Aerial view of Open Pit Copper Mine near Green Valley, Arizona;

Comply with environmental laws and lower costs by advancing your mine water treatment processes.

According to the International Council of Mining and Metals: mining companies viewed water like any other production input. But this has changed in recent years. Water scarcity is a growing challenge in the mining environment. Mining requires water at almost every stage of the process and the bulk of the assets of major mining companies are in water-stressed regions mostly in the southern hemisphere. For many mining companies water is being considered as a strategic resource where in the past it was only about rocks.

Water plays a crucial role for mining operations. Not only the people working in mines depend on it but also many of the mining processes consume an average of 10 megalitres of water a day. The preparation of the water used in processes like leaching or flotation consumes energy and chemicals. Finally, mines must discharge the used water back into the environment without harming it in accordance to local standards and in conjunction to the mine’s water use license.

As a lot of mines are situated in remote areas without sufficient access to water, this can be a problem. This is why more and more mines rely on water extraction processes like Reverse Osmosis to ensure their water supply, but these processes should be closely monitored to ensure consistent results. Same goes for the preparation of industrial water. With tight control of parameters like pH and dissolved oxygen, the usage of energy and chemicals can be optimised. The same goes for treatment of water after it’s been used to make sure environmental regulations are fulfilled.

Reverse osmosis is one of the most common raw water preparation techniques. It relies on filtering water through special membranes. The challenge is to have as long as possible filtration cycles without harming the membranes which are prone to blockages and processes like fouling and scaling. Therefore, the most important parameters on the inlet besides flow is the differential pressure measurement over the filter.

Mine water preparation is one of the most important processes for mining water. A neutral pH value will ensure the efficiency of the settling, and turbidity measurements can determine the level of the suspended solids. Digital Memosens sensors are highly accurate and can easily be calibrated without disturbing the processes, thanks to a removable head where data is stored. You can connect up to eight Memosens sensors to a Liquiline transmitter CM44x to make water quality control a breeze as well as reducing the cost per measuring point.

The water balance of the entire mine, several components, or a single entity, may be quantified as part of the water quality and/or quantity management activities at a mining site. Reasons for undertaking a facility or site water balance study may include:

(a) evaluate strategies for optimum use of limited water supplies;

(b) establish procedures for limiting site discharge and complying with discharge requirements, particularly control of the quality of the water and/or the quantity of contaminants discharged from the site; and

c) limiting or controlling erosion due to flow over exposed surfaces or in channels, swales, and creeks; and

(d) estimating the demands on water treatment plants, holding ponds, evaporation ponds, or wetlands.

Monitoring and controlling of water quality used on mines forms part of KPAs which needs to be managed to comply with local legislations. Endress+Hauser can support mines by reducing these targets and assist them by reporting on the required KPAs and milestones even more efficiently.

For more information, please contact:

Dhiren Naidoo

Industry Manager, Primaries & Metal

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