The future corrosion risk to mine operating performance due to the use of lower quality water sources
Mining operations typically expose process equipment and infrastructure to severe environments and operating conditions. In order to prevent the premature deterioration of these assets, designers have to consider the use of resistant materials and combinations of other corrosion control strategies. Ongoing maintenance activities are also required and can be a significant portion of production cost.
With competition for scarce water sources, and tighter regulations around its use, mining projects are increasingly being forced to use poorer quality waters such as salt water, seawater, brackish or recycled process water to meet their needs. In the future, there will therefore be a more pronounced correlation between the use of these more aggressive waters and capital costs and operating expenditures associated with corrosion prevention, material selection and maintenance.
Predicting these corrosion risks and learning lessons from existing operating plants will bring a more proactive awareness to this issue and help avoid costly failures, unscheduled downtime, delays, and environmental issues.
This paper shares benchmarking case studies highlighting degradation mechanisms and failures that have occurred directly due to the use of aggressive waters. It also introduces potential areas of opportunity for corrosion control technology cross-over from other sectors.