Turning wastewater into a valuable resource
The scarcity of water and tough regulatory environment is making it critical for all mining operations to manage their water resource effectively and in compliance with the law. Smart water treatment solutions designed, built and operated by NuWater are able to address these challenges reliably and economically.
Our widespread experience, understanding and knowledge of the mining industry, has enabled NuWater to continually improve, refine and innovate the solutions we offer by applying and implementing innovative ideas and new technologies.
NuWater has many years of experience designing, constructing and operating high performance mobile and modular water treatment solutions for International and local mining clients. NuWater has a formidable track record in re-claiming, re-using and remediating water – no matter how complex, problematic or contaminated the water source has become.
Typical water challenges for mining operations
Acid Mine Drainage
Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) occurs when sulphides in rocks are exposed to air and water. Mining disturbs large quantities of rock containing sulphide minerals. These minerals react with water and oxygen to create sulphuric acid. When the underground water reaches a certain acidity level, a naturally occurring type of bacteria thrive. These bacteria accelerate the oxidation and acidification processes. Acid will continue to leach from the rock as long as the rock contains sulphides and the surfaces are exposed to air and water. This process of leaching that can last for hundreds, even thousands of years. Acid is often carried off the mine site by rainwater or surface drainage and deposited into nearby waterways or areas where the water leach into the underground water bodies.
Heavy Metal Contamination & Leaching
Heavy metal pollution in water is when metals such as arsenic, cobalt, copper, cadmium, lead, silver, and zinc in excavated rock or exposed in an underground or open cast mine come in contact with water. Metals are leached out and carried downstream as water washes over the rock surfaces. Although dissolved metals can be found in solutions with a near-neutral pH condition, leaching of the heavy metals into solution is significantly accelerated in the low pH conditions. Depending on the concentrations contained within the water, this water is not fit for human or animal consumption and can very often not be utilised in the mining process or production due to the contamination risks.
Processing Chemicals Pollution
When chemical agents enter a natural water body it is referred to as Chemical Pollution. These chemicals, typically cyanide or sulphuric acids, are used in mining operations to separate the target mineral from the ore. Unforeseen spills, leaks, or leaching from the mine site is the most likely cause of this type of pollution. These chemicals can be highly toxic to humans and wildlife.
Erosion and Sedimentation
Mining disturbs soil and rock in the course of constructing and maintaining roads, open pits, waste containment areas and dams. Without adequate prevention and control strategies, the exposed earth’s erosion may carry substantial amounts of sediment into streams, rivers, and dams. Excessive solids deposition adversely affects natural ecosystems and waterways.
Billion Litres +
South Africa exports oil products, minerals and metals, all of which require enormous amounts of water.
211 tonnes of platinum were exported in 2012, that’s equivalent to 170 billion litres of water—the amount needed to mine and process the metal.
South Africa has at least 1000 operational mines, which collectively use the same amount of water as the country’s entire population of 53 million.
Extracting value efficiently and effectively
Mobile, scalable and compact, the NuWater water, wastewater and desalination plants are relatively easy to transport and commission on site and are re-deployable to meet changing requirements.
Cutting-edge technology, best-in-class purpose-fit equipment and engineering ingenuity, all combine to produce automated and containerised water treatment plants requiring a dramatically reduced footprint with the capacity to produce up to 50 million litres of the highest quality water daily.
The smart waste stream management solutions developed by NuWater include high water recovery systems which are able to produce concentrated Brine, Zero Liquid Discharge, Biomass to Energy, and Solids Recycling solutions.