Water solutions sought by mining industries

The global mining water and wastewater sector was expected to grow as the focus on sustainable water solutions within the mining industry increased, a recent report by Frost & Sullivan found.
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In its ‘CEO 360 Degree Perspective of the Global Mining Water and Wastewater Treatment Market’ report, the firm said that continuing investments into improving water treatment levels, resource recovery and desalination capacities were expected to push the sector’s revenue from $2.29-billion in 2011, to $3.60-billion by 2016.

The water-intensive mining industry, which was often required to adapt to the water scarcity or water quality of the host region, was increasingly seeking advanced water and wastewater treatment technologies and innovative business models to mitigate rising water stress.

Stricter environmental regulations, climate change and weather conditions also increased water-related challenges in many metals- and mineral-rich regions.

“Critical water shortage is already an issue in many areas where natural resources are abundant, making it imperative for mining companies to consider either water trading or water recovery and reuse technologies,” explained Frost & Sullivan research analyst Paulina Szyplinska.

However, she cautioned that, while the global mining industry maintained operational efficiencies and cost optimisation as it increased production, sustainable solutions for water use should be incorporated into mining business decisions, and not be seen as an add-on cost. “It has to be highlighted that increased water consumption may impact global water resources far beyond the operable life of the mine.”

Source: Engineering News (By Natasha Odendaal)

Mining activities are almost always a cause of severe environmental degradation and many countries do not enforce proper rehabilitation when mines are decommissioned.  Water consumption in the mining industry is very high and it does not make sense for industrial processes to be using precious drinking water which is then polluted.  In South Africa, acid mine drainage is becoming a serious concern in the country’s Gauteng region. Therefore, any water recycling and reuse of water in mining operations will place less pressure on local water resources.

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