Water Pollution – Water Audit

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What is a water audit and why does your mine need one?


Article from – Mining Safety – https://www.miningsafety.co.za/dynamiccontent/1166/what-is-a-water-audit-and-why-does-your-mine-need-one


“Mines use a lot of water for their operations, and this can be detrimental to the environment, especially if water is being wasted or misused without your knowledge. Water loss is not only bad for the environment, but it does contribute to increases in monthly bills as a mining company. This is where a water audit can come in handy because it will help with your water management strategies.

You should invest in an industrial water audit to help with reducing water costs and usage. The water audit company will look at different aspects such as your water meters, any leaks that exist, as well as gather data from your water treatments to provide you with a full picture of how your water is being used. Read on for more important information on water audits and why your mining company needs one.


So, what is a water audit?

Simply put, water audit traces water use from the point it enters your mining facility throughout its journey and eventual discharge. It also looks at surface water drainage and other issues. The audit is used to examine all points of water usage in a site survey and provide data on the volume of water used. This data can show you where there are potential leakages, broken pipes or if pieces of equipment are using too much water.

Since we are all aware that water is our lifeblood, we need to practice water conservation as much as possible. For a mining company this can be difficult since many processes in the industry use water to work. A water audit will allow you to improve your water management services as the audit process will provide a bills analysis to see where water is being used.

Some audits also take into account water quality, which is especially useful for mining companies. This will allow you to see what type of water is being released from your mine, such as acid mine drainage or surface water drainage. You can use this information to improve your water treatment methods as well as become more environmentally friendly.


Why is a water audit so important?

It can help you to save money
Knowing how much water you are wasting due to leaks or misuse will help you to save water. This is because you will be able to fix the leaks and stop the water from being wasted. Or you can improve your processes so that your mechanical systems do not use as much water as they currently using.

You can look into methods of mining that recycle water rather than needing to tap into the water resources of your current location. This will help you to spend less, such as using rainwater to flush toilets and wash equipment and floors. This way, you can avoid using the potable water or only use it for necessary functions of your project. Speak to a water audit professional for ideas on how to become more water conscious as a mining company.

You can improve your maintenance practices
If you have not been conscious of how much water you have been using, a water audit can help you to remedy this. You will be able to improve your maintenance processes by putting preventative maintenance processes in place such as assigning someone to check all taps, pipes, hoses and so forth for leaks or if they have been left on unnecessarily.

You could also assign someone to regularly ensure that all the taps in the bathrooms and kitchens are not leaking and are turned off after use. This might seem like a small and simple task but it is a fact that a dripping tap can lead to exorbitant water bills. By understanding how much water you use on a monthly basis, you can put a system in place for your workers to use in order to save water and improve workflow.


You will lower your environmental impact

It is a known fact that mines use a vast amount of water and that they also influence the environment with runoff and chemicals. But, if you are aware of the quality of water that is being released by your mine, you can take steps towards improving this and lower your environmental impact.

You can use the data from the water audit to fix issues and to limit your use of chemicals which could be causing issues in the surrounding area. In order to further limit your impact, you can opt for ways to stop acid mine drainage such as revegetating the area with water-absorbent plants or by filling in the mine once your project is over and it will not be used again.”


water audit




What To Do About Water Pollution in the Mining Industry


“Water is a limited resource on this planet. Regardless of this fact, it is a desired and necessary resource in every household and industry, but yet there are some industries where water is wasted and polluted with no further thought or action.

The mining industry is one of those specific sectors which we will be looking at today. Water pollution is no secret when it comes to mining, but there are recycling and treatment solutions to turn the environmentally negative effect into a positive one. And all mining institutions are encouraged to adopt these practices. Not only to improve their eco-friendly status but also to be smarter about their water use and reduce production costs.


What is water used for in mining?


Water is used to extract the valuable minerals from the quarry. It is also used on a mining site to process the minerals, recover metals, control dust and quench workers’ thirst.

Depending on the type of mine (metal or nonmetal mines), the amount of water that is required will differ. The mining sector in South Africa reportedly only uses 3% of the country’s water but when it comes to saving a limited resource, the efforts from all industries are required. And in an industry where water is used for processes as opposed to purely consumption purposes, creating a water recycling system should be a requirement for all businesses in the industry.


Different types of mining water


Again, dependent on the mining functions where water is needed, there will be different types of mining water (pollution) that is leftover after it’s been used. There are treatment options for the different types of mining water that can make them reusable. Mining water refers to water that has been used from a designated mine water source, in order to complete mining functions.

Acid Mine Drainage (AMD): There is a naturally occurring process called Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) that produces sulphuric acid from the exposure of water, air and the sulphides in rocks. With AMD, on the other hand, it uses the same process only magnified by the scale of an excavation in mining. As there will always be large quantities of sulphide-mineral-rich rocks, water and air at a mining site, the sulphuric acid will constantly be drained from the rocks through rainwater or surface drainage and let out into nearby rivers. Acid Mine Drainage is by far the most common and problematic mining water pollution issue.

Heavy metal contamination (Leachate): When arsenic, cobalt, copper, cadmium, lead, silver and zinc metals are exposed to water, heavy metal contamination occurs. When the metals leach from the rock, they also run into the nearby water sources and pollute the water.

Processing chemicals pollution: The process of combining cyanide or sulphuric acid with water to extract minerals from their ores results in runoff that contaminates nearby rivers. These chemicals, along with the pollution from the above-mentioned types of mining water pollutants, are incredibly harmful to wildlife, marine life, as well as human life.

Sedimentation: If you consider the heavy-duty equipment and almost constant earth-moving activity that occurs at mining sites, it’s no surprise that erosion of the land leads to increased sedimentation in nearby water sources.


What happens to the polluted water?


Water pollution from mining sites, as we have discussed, run off the site and right into the precious water sources that are used for recreational purposes such as fishing or swimming, used as a municipal water supply or even possibly used in irrigation in the agricultural sector. Regardless of what the affected water source is used for, it will have an effect on the human population in some way.

And it’s also important to note that just because a mining site is no longer “active” doesn’t mean that it’s no longer polluting surrounding water sources. These sites need to be controlled and managed for decades after they’ve been shut down.


What can be done about it?


PROXA Water are experts in the entire water cycle and have successfully worked within the African mineral and mining industry to make a positive change.

When you look at some of the solutions regarding what can be done about water pollution in the mining industry, you’re looking at:

Recycling water processes to ensure “new” water usage is decreased.
Diverting runoff water to prevent contamination of nearby water sources.
Water treatment processes for surface water, process waters and other types of mining water.
Implement a constant water management system both during and long after all mining efforts on the site.
We need to do everything possible to protect our water resource and ensure that no harm comes to society as a result of contaminated water. And the mining industry needs to implement these necessary water treatment and saving processes in order to do so.”




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