Leveraging Water and Wastewater Treatment Know-how to Benefit the Global Mining Sector
By Manish Backliwal, Director of Business Development, Aquatech
For more than 35 years, Aquatech has delivered leading-edge and reliable water and wastewater treatment solutions to customers around the world in a variety of industries. The company, which has executed more than 1000 projects in 60 countries, is now bringing that experience and expertise to customers in the global mining sector.
Latin America is a hot spot for mining activity, and Aquatech is executing several projects there including one for a gold mining company in Colombia.The resurgence in the Latin American mining industry followed a “down” period for a few years due to low metal prices. But recently, metal prices have risen, and mining activity has again picked up in that area. Another driver that is accelerating the need for sophisticated water and wastewater treatment is, the government regulations regarding environmental compliance are stringent and they are being strictly enforced.
To secure permits, mining companies need to provide a water sustainability plan to the authorities in order for their projects to be approved. They are looking at different ways to ensure that these projects are not only financially viable but also environmentally responsible.
The project that we are executing at a gold mine in Colombia, for example, is aimed at making sure the treated water is of highest purity. We have installed a system, which includes reverse osmosis, that is recovering between 85-90% of the wastewater through conventional technologies. The balance of the water is being recovered by processing it through a crystallizer where we are achieving zero liquid discharge (ZLD).
Even if we were looking at reduced liquid discharge as opposed to true zero liquid discharge, the quality of the treated wastewater that would be produced would be better than the existing fresh water intake quality. Nevertheless, we are trying to bring the technologies of zero liquid discharge, treating and recycling wastewater using both conventional and advanced technologies, in the mining sector.
However, zero liquid discharge is not the only water treatment technology that Aquatech offers mining companies. We can treat water from intake through the whole wastewater stream. Desalination of intake water is one of those processes.
Many areas where mining takes place are water scarce. Most of the time, the sea /ocean is the only source of water. Mining sites rely on desalination (primarily RO-based systems) to make sure they have a sufficient quantity of desalinated water that is required for their operations.
In case of discharge, many of the local economies are reliant on fishing, and they do not want mining wastewater to be released into the water bodies. The untreated wastewater may contain compounds such as sulfates, which are harmful to the wildlife and the environment. Therefore companies are invested into recycling more water or using different technologies to make sure that the sulfate value in discharge water is very low.
Another issue is the removal of selenium from the wastewater. Aquatech has a technology, SeAnoxTM, that can reduce the selenium to the acceptable limit.
Aquatech is also well-positioned to work with companies in the world’s other mining centers – Canada, South Africa and Australia. Along with Latin America, these regions comprise the four big mining centers of the world.
In short, Aquatech has the technology and know-how to help mining companies solve water problems across the full spectrum of their operations. We have vast experience in water management on both the intake side via desalination as well as in wastewater treatment. We can leverage our leadership in treating difficult waters, our pioneering role in developing ZLD technologies, and deep experience in designing and installing ZLD systems around the world. Applications that range from flue gas desulfurization in the power generation industry to refining operations and coal-to-chemicals and coal-to-liquids plants.
Click here for more information about Aquatech’s solutions for the mining industry.