Optimization of Water Supply and Reutilization in Base Metal Processing

CIM Toronto 2009
Richard Dixon,
Abstract Mining Projects and Operations worldwide increasingly face issues regarding their sourcing of water, especially in dry regions. Water volume and quality requirements depend on the mineral processing technology to be used. Unfortunately, water quality requirements are often not well understood nor taken into account when sources of water are evaluated.

Too often, process water requirements are only expressed in terms of flow rate without including the actual quality of the available water. The difference between the projected (clean) and real available water quality may be substantial. As a result, operational issues such as corrosion, scaling and even metallurgical recovery may become challenges that have to be resolved at significant operational cost.

On the other side, in many cases, installations with a high Capex and Opex demand are designed to treat incoming supply water to quality levels that exceed the process requirements by far.

Understanding the water quality requirements for the different process technologies is also important to be able to implement water optimization and reutilization programs.

This paper focuses on optimized water supply options as a function of the required minimum process water quality, as well as on some effects of water reutilization programs on process water quality.

Special attention will be given to water supply options such as the use of sea and saline water versus desalinated (sea)water in dry regions.
Keywords: Water, Supply, Reutilization, Desalination, reverse osmosis, Water quality, Chile, Seawater, Salinity, Mining
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