2. Water conservation
From dust suppression and slurry transport and storage to mineral processing, a significant volume of water is required for the day-to-day operations of any mine. Yet, in light of increasing concerns around water scarcity and long-term water security, mining companies face ongoing pressures to reduce their consumption of fresh and bulk water, and ensure discharge meets the highest environmental standards – or better yet be recycled for applications like agricultural irrigation.
By using modern water treatment technologies, from biological processes to desalination, evaporation and crystallisation, miners can significantly optimise their water cycle by continuously reusing process water in a closed loop circuit, working towards zero liquid discharge. This not only reduces a mine’s freshwater demand; it can also lower per-kilolitre water costs, as well as improve on-site availability of this operation-critical resource in the event of bulk supply interruptions.
Mines also need to ensure all risks of water pollution are managed to the highest safety and environmental standards. Not only is discharge strictly monitored; acid mine drainage (AMD), caused primarily by leeching oxidised sulphide minerals, can have severe negative impacts on aquatic life and overall riverine health. The potential for AMD needs to be identified and predicted through sampling, testwork and modelling, and treated with heavy metals removal and alkalisation.
Leading mines have a sustainable, low-impact water use profile.