Water is Life and soon it may be more precious than Gold
Water is an essential element of life, we all need it not only to drink; but it also plays an important role in economic growth. Presence of water resources, or rather lack of them, can also be the cause of geopolitical conflicts. As human demand for water increases water scarcity becomes apparent in very different ways.
World population is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 according to UN DESA report. Increasing population means increasing demand for water, combined with the decreasing supply, makes water conservation more important now than ever.
WATER IN MINING
As for many different industries, water is also essential in Mining. According to Global Water Intelligence, the mining industry is probably the second largest industrial user of water in the world after the power generation industry. It uses between seven and nine billion cubic meters of water per year, which is as much water as a country such as Nigeria or Malaysia use in a year. This level of usage has growing environmental, social and political impacts.
Water has a profound impact on every stage of a mines’ life:from feasibility to development and operations, and then closure . Taking into consideration the outlook of the global water resources, mining companies are facing increasing risks. The extraction of raw materials requires huge amounts of water, and long-term availability as well as the costs associated with obtaining constant access to water can sometimes be underestimated. Therefore, it is crucial to promote awareness of the environmental impacts among the mining industry professionals.
Recent decades have provided more stringent environmental regulations worldwide. The compliance with new and more strict legislations, as well as greater financial demands, are forcing mining companies to evaluate the issue of water in many different ways.
Many Mining concerns are adopting new methods to optimize consumption of water through best management practices (BMP) and the introduction of innovative technologies. These include: recirculation of water in operations; desalinization and direct use of salt water; improved tailings operation management through the development of thickening techniques that increase concentrations of solids (and lower percentages of water) for large scale industrial production; the selection of sites with easy filtration control; among others. [REF: https://www.cochilco.cl/Research/best_practices_and_the_efficient_use_of_water.pdf]
WATER AND DUST CONTROL
It is expected that the water shortage will be intensified with almost all forms of economic development, but if managed correctly, many of its causes can be anticipated, avoided or mitigated. One of the mining activities that consumes significant amount of water that can be avoided is Dust Control on Mine Haul Roads. It is also important to remember that poor road management and substantial watering can result in increased road and mobile equipment deterioration and in the long run costly maintenance. From this perspective, environmentally responsible practices related to the elimination of water for dust control should become an integral part of a modern mining operation. There are alternative technologies for long term dust suppression that significantly reduce water useage.
An important objective of Soil Solutions is to promote sustainable Dust Control solutions that completely eliminate water required for Dust Control on Mine Haul Roads.One application of EBS (Engineered Base Stabilizer) as a surface seal provides a water resistant road surface fully protected from erosion and materialloss. The hard surface eliminates dust. This improved surface allows for an improved and safer road that has a significantly reduced environmental impact . The high performance level of EBS Soil Stabilizer allows for significant water savings while delivering long-term dust control solutions.
Significant change comes from smaller constant changes.Mining entities can make a difference through small changes.
Change the way Access, Haul and Pit roads are maintained and they will reduce water consumption by massive amounts. Multiply this by the number of mining operations globally – and there will be a dramatic effect. We caused the damage to our environment we now have to make changes to heal it.