Mine Water Management
Amine site typically contains a complex water system, particularly when a concentrator is included. A significant effort is required in order to keep clean water clean, and ensure all potentially contaminated water is collected and treated. It is also critical to provide safe and non-scaling water to the concentrator. This can result in a complex reticulation system which can change with the years.
Typically, the largest water flow on a mine site is the tailings conveying water and the return process water feed to the concentrator. The quality of this recycle stream is critical to ensure high concentrator metal recoveries. Partial or complete treatment of this stream is often economical.
As most mine sites are in a positive water balance for at least part of the year, treatment and release is required to ensure that the mine water inventory is controlled while consistently meeting discharge regulations.
Conversely, in dry or frozen seasons the mine site must retain sufficient water for continued processing without drawing in excessive volumes of clean water. This requires hydrological modelling, the choice of design wet and dry events, and a balance between water storage volumes and treatment plant flowrates.
Mine water management must include all of these aspects, including:
- Keeping clean water clean
- Collecting all contact water
- Ensure sufficient discharge of treated water in compliance with all local regulations
- Ensuring there will be no spills for design storm events
- Ensuring that sufficient water will be retained for dry events
- Provide safe, efficient, and non-scaling water to the concentrator and underground