Mining sector and its challenges in water treatment

Regulations on water management for the mining sector have become more stringent globally and in Peru to address environmental concerns and ensure sustainable practices. Recent examples include the challenges of water management in the hyper-arid Pacific slope of Southern Peru, where the Cuajone mine processes approximately 90 kt/d of fresh water for processing.

Mining companies are increasingly required to adopt sustainable water and wastewater management practices, including choosing appropriate mine dewatering and site water management solutions to minimize water usage and reuse treated water while ensuring environmental safety and operational efficiency.

Water policy integration into mining regulations is crucial to ensure sustainable practices, with mining companies considering water management as a critical aspect of their operations and adopting practices that minimize water usage and promote conservation. The implementation of the water law in Peru faces challenges, requiring a more integrated approach to water management in the mining sector, including the involvement of local communities and stakeholders. The legal framework for mining in Peru emphasizes the importance of complying with environmental regulations and adopting sustainable practices to ensure the long-term viability of mining operations.

New technological alternatives are needed to address this new business environment not only in Peru, but on a global scale. New technologies reducing the cost of water management must be in place, or this will have a very extensive impact on the global economy as the cost of mining increases and the prices of metals are affected.

Water Management Efficiency and Mine Closing

Water management efficiency in mining operations is a critical challenge due to the industry’s high water consumption and the need to meet stringent environmental regulations.

Mining companies must adopt sustainable water and wastewater management practices to minimize water usage, reuse treated water, and ensure environmental safety and operational efficiency. New technologies that can reduce the cost of water processing, can make it more feasible for mining operations to implement sustainable water management practices.

New water treatment technologies must address not only the actual removal of contaminants, but also the many different elements that impact the cost of water management, like complex engineering, challenging procurement, costly construction, costs of operation (consumables, energy, and operators), level of automation, durability, control of effluent discharge, and so on. Ion Retardation is a technology designed to address all these challenges.

Also, in the closing phase of a mine, regarding water, mining companies are typically asked to provide detailed information and plans related to mine water management and closure strategies. Specifically, they are often required to outline how they will manage water resources to prevent contamination and ensure environmental safety post-closure. This includes detailing the measures they will take to treat any remaining water on-site, prevent acid mine drainage, remove metal wastes and contaminants from mining wastewater, and control liquid effluent discharge. Additionally, companies need to present strategies for managing mine dewatering, addressing water quality concerns, and implementing zero-liquid effluent discharge technologies to minimize environmental impacts during and after the mine closure phase.

All of this requires different options from the ones generally used today.