Mining operations maximize water reuse to minimize negative impacts
Mining processes, once hugely environmentally unfriendly, have been transformed. It is now a top priority in modern mine operations to be environmentally sound, especially with water use. Mines are incorporating environmental strategies to save money, comply with regulations, and calm public concerns.
The mines of today are faced with very stringent water and wastewater regulations. Environmental awareness of mining impacts has increased substantially over the years. And in response, the mining industry is addressing misconceptions and making much needed improvements in other areas.
Large mining operations are seeing incentives to improve the efficiency of their waste streams with one example being water reuse. Typically, mining facilities treat their own wastewater because of their remote locations and high-water demand. Incorporating reuse treatment requires more capital investment, but it can reduce long-term costs and help with any groundwater or water supply concerns. Capturing storm water and/or treatment of tailing pond effluent can also be an option for a reuse water supply.
Reuse water can be used for boiler water, cooling, irrigation, cleaning and process water. There are various water management and treatment strategies used for a reuse water plan. Depending on the required final water quality and usage, reuse treatment may require additional treatment such as ion exchange, filtration, chemical treatment or reverse osmosis.
A water management and reuse plan includes underground water modeling, dewatering practices, water rights, and future operations and infrastructure needs. Planning for wastewater treatment and how you can use treatment for reuse is a very important piece of the long-term planning process for mining operations.
When we develop a water reuse program, we look at the long-term picture. The plan should ensure optimization of water usage and treatment, minimize impacts to the environment and save money for the mine.