Efficient, sustainable wastewater treatment is a major environmental challenge facing the mining industry, both during extraction operations and after a site has closed down. It is also a vital condition for obtaining and retaining a mine operating license.
Wastewater in the mining industry: what is it?
Wastewater produced at a mine is also known as tailings. This water may be generated by various sources, depending on whether it is an open-cast or underground mine, whether it has a positive or negative water balance, and according to the refining process used.
The wastewater contains waste from the extraction and refining processes. It is discharged in the form of a slurry, comprising a mixture of fine particles of debris, chemicals and water, that is stored in tailing dams or tailing ponds. In certain cases, mining companies will opt to treat wastewater at source rather than have to manage discharges of tailings.
Our unique solutions for treating solid waste and wastewater
Our comprehensive strategies for wastewater treatment deliver significant overall cost savings at mining sites where we operate.
We make sure that all discharges comply with regulations and we recover water and metals present in tailings to create new resources. For example, with our proprietary HPD® crystallization and evaporation technology we help the industry to recover precious materials and by-products from mine tailings, to reuse and/or recycle water resources and reduce their overall effluent volume, in every region of the world.
- Optimizing your yields through the recovery of minerals present in tailings
- Securing the continuation of your operating license
- Minimizing risks of an interruption to production
Discover our solutions for treating wastewater >
Are you are a mining company? What are the benefits for you?
We did it!
In 2013, Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA), a subsidiary of the Rio Tinto Group, chose our seawater concentrator technology to treat and reduce stocks of process water stored at its Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site. The solution now forms a critical part of ERA’s overall strategy for water management and environmental protection.
Working with a local partner, we designed, built and now operate a treatment plant that processes over 3 million m3 of wastewater every year. And we help our customer, a mining company, to recover copper from its discharges to be returned to the mine for inclusion in its output.
In an environment subject to major seasonal rainfall, we helped a gold mine to manage its tailings overflow and meet local waste regulations. By modernizing its wastewater treatment plant, revising operational practices and training a dedicated local team, we made sure that the Anglogold Ashanti mining company was able to continue and improve its operations: extraction process, tailing ponds, tailings and wastewater treatment, tailings discharge.