Mine Water Management – Challenges, Technology and Solutions

CIM Montreal 2011
Graham Sim,
Abstract From a water perspective, mining operations worldwide are facing duel challenges of increasing regulations regarding the disposal of wastewater and also the availability of freshwater to maintain growing production requirements. Wastewaters are comprised of multiple sources such as salty drainage, spent acid, heap leach wastewater, mine drainage water and on site chemical regenerants to name but a few. Disposal to local lakes, rivers, evaporation ponds, deep wells and sewer systems are facing increasing challenges ranging from legal or regulatory enforcement as well as social or community pressures. Mining operations are looking for best in class solutions for mine water management and historical discharge options are no longer legal, or socially viable, for many mining and smelting operations. As the demand for freshwater increases, water efficiency and availability is an issue for the mining industry, local communities and government alike.

This paper will utilize case studies from a variety of mining applications to highlight different solutions that have been developed to effectively conserve, purify and reuse the water within the mine site.
- Case study enabling 99% water reuse within a coal mining facility
- Case study enabling 80% of water to be treated and reused in a mine drainage application, pitfalls and key learning’s.
- Case study outlining solutions available to reduce water for dust applications by up to 90%, and the operating cost impact for haul road applications.

The challenges involved will be presented, in terms of regulatory pressures, cost constraints and technology gaps required to treat these concentrated water streams.
The technologies utilized will range from vapor compression evaporation, crystallization, reverse osmosis, electrodialysis reversal, ultrafiltration and chemical treatment solutions. The merit and rationale for using different treatment technologies will be discussed.
Keywords: Mine drainage, Water management, Dust, Tailings, Water
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