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The Basics of Mining Wastewater Treatment

The Basics of Mining Wastewater Treatment is an important topic for most mining operations.  Used in mineral processing to recover valuable metals from ore, water is essential to the mining industry. However, using water in this way causes mineral contaminants and other solids to accumulate in your process water supply. This leads to contaminated mining wastewater that can’t be reused or returned into the environment due to community health concerns and environmental regulations without treatment. As such, mining operations need to have a consistent and reliable source of clean water in order to keep business running.

While some mining operations may choose to pay an outside company to transport the wastewater, hauling waste sludge is inefficient and costly. Retention ponds are also an option, but they lose their effectiveness over time as they become dirtier, leading to a bad Return-on-Investment (ROI). Instead, treating the water on-site with chemicals and filtration methods can lead to a number of benefits, including:

  • Significant cost savings
  • Full control of the treatment process and long-term sustainability
  • The ability to reuse the water once treated
  • Maximum water recovery with a near closed-loop solution

That’s why more and more mining companies are moving towards implementing sustainable wastewater treatment solutions.

The Problem with Mining Wastewater

While necessary for mineral processing, that basics of mining wastewater treatment dealing with water that comes into contact with ore and other sediment causes parts of the rock to leach into the process water. The acidity of the water will then rise as increasing amounts of metal and sulfates contaminate the water.

This process creates what’s known as mining-influenced water (MIW), which is defined as any water that’s been chemically affected by mining or mineral processing. The biggest issues with mining-influenced water include:

  • Acid mine drainage
  • Processing chemicals pollution
  • Heavy metal contamination and leaching
  • Sedimentation and erosion

Any of the problems can cause your water to fail to maintain regulatory standards, forcing you to treat it or dispose of the wastewater properly.

How Water Treatment Works for Mining Operations

When it comes to water treatment for mining operations, the focus is treating process water. However, water associated with mine drainage and stormwater is also important to treat if you want to maximize water efficiencies.

No matter which water source you’re treating, the primary goals are to remove metals, solids, and other contaminants from the water, as well as restore the water to optimal pH levels. Treating your mining wastewater requires a combination of chemicals and mechanical filtration.

pH Adjusters

One of the first things that you need to do when treating mining wastewater is to restore optimal pH levels to the water. Not only is this important in and of itself to maintain the quality of your water, but it will also help dissolved metals to precipitate . By raising the pH of the water, positively charged metal ions will react with negatively-charged hydroxide ions. This results in a dense and insoluble metal particle that’s easier to work with.

Used in the right amounts, pH adjusters can help to lower your mining wastewater’s acidity, returning it to more balanced pH levels. While a pH of 7 is technically neutral, it’s best to restore your mining water to a pH of 8 or more before continuing on with other treatment methods.

Coagulants and Flocculants

After getting your water’s pH levels right, you can use coagulants and flocculants to take the small metal particles and suspended solids in your water and combine them into larger clumps. This makes them easier to filter out and remove by mechanical means.

Formulated for a wide range of mineral processing applications, ChemREADY’s high-quality line of FlocREADY flocculants and coagulants are designed to improve mining wastewater treatment and lower overall costs.

Additional Chemicals

While pH adjusters, coagulants and flocculants are the main chemicals used to mining wastewater treatment, certain applications require additional chemicals to protect your systems or to help prepare your water for filtration. These can include:

  • Water softeners and ion exchangers
  • Corrosion inhibitors
  • Algaecides and biocides

Filtration

Once you’ve optimized the quality of your water with the right chemicals, mechanical filtration methods can remove any suspended particles and certain types of organic matter. While there are a few different machines to use, the main types of mechanical filtration equipment are:

How ChemREADY Can Help

With significant experience in water treatment for mining operations, ChemREADY is your perfect partner for the basics of mining wastewater treatment. We’re more than just a chemical supplier – our industry-proven experts are here to help you every step of the way.

While most suppliers will just try to throw a standard assortment of chemicals at your problem and hope that it works, ChemREADY actually does it right. Our experts will spend time analyzing your water to determine what chemicals to use and in what quantities. The cost-benefit of our risk analysis provides significant savings to you in the long run, allowing you to future-proof your water treatment process.

If you want to learn more about how we can help with your mining wastewater treatment, or you’d like to discuss your needs in detail, contact the ChemREADY team today.

Need some expert advice or repair services? Contact ChemREADY today to schedule your free consultation.