Wastewater treatment: It’s critical for ESG

With water scarcity an increasing global issue and the ESG era in full swing, effective water-management strategies are an obligation.

With water scarcity an increasing global issue and the ESG era in full swing, effective water-management strategies are an obligation. Xylem offers clients in the mining industry a holistic solution.

The mining industry uses significant amounts of water to keep operations afloat. As a result, it is critical that all mining companies have water treatment strategies in place to optimise the recovery of this vital resource.

Water is utilised primarily to transport and process ores in mining, but it is also key to other practices such as dust suppression, dewatering applications and in cooling systems.

Tailings dams, which store by-products derived from mining and mineral processing practices, also comprise large amounts of water. And it’s these radioactive ponds that can be most dangerous to the environment.

Managing mining wastewater in a tailings dam requires more than just pump systems; it demands a holistic solution that understands all the risks at play.

Xylem’s solution
Xylem services its mining clients with the view of them forming their own villages, requiring water for work and home environments – for drinking, bathing and sewerage – as well as the water used for the mining operation itself.

The company also helps mining operations to use their water more sustainably, by taking flood water from open pits that’s normally a waste product to treat and use within their community.

Water can also be sold on and provided to nearby farmers for further use, which sees the water returned to the local environment and community.

Depending on where the water is sourced and the minerals it contains, Xylem is able to condition, pump, filter and disinfect it using ultra-violet or ozone treatments to make it safe for everyday use.

Mixers are an important component of the wastewater treatment process, and Xylem offers compact, top-entry, mid-size and slow-speed mixers to suit different applications. The mixers feature state-of-the-art propeller designs and deliver rugged, reliable operation with easy speed adjustment.

Xylem’s adaptive mixers are ideal for specific process needs and boast automation, integrated drive and advanced control capabilities to ensure a mining company or contractor has full control over their mixing.

Tailings dams serve their purpose for a period and a mining company without an on-site wastewater treatment strategy would eventually need to transport wastewater off-site. This often involves an external contractor, which can be an inefficient use of time and money.

ESG
A considered wastewater treatment strategy not only leads to cost savings but also reduces a mining operation’s overall environmental footprint. This is even more critical in the current environmental, social and governance (ESG) era.

Through Xylem’s holistic wastewater treatment solutions, mining companies can have full control over their treatment process and be the drivers of their own ESG strategy.

And it’s not only about aligning with the ‘E’ in ESG.

Social acceptability is also an important consideration, and mining companies are less likely to attract investor support if they aren’t proactive about their environmental practices. It’s also important for inclusivity and transparency, and bringing an investor or lender along for the journey will go a long way to solidifying a business partnership.

Water scarcity
Water scarcity is an increasing global concern. The World Economic Forum forecasts a 40 per cent shortfall between demand and supply by 2030 if current practices continue.

While the mining industry is a key driver of the global economy, it uses a significant amount of water. A 2020 report from the Australian Conservation Foundation estimated that coal mining in New South Wales and Queensland used 225 billion litres of fresh water per year.

The Australian mining industry can make a difference, and with the assistance of Xylem’s holistic wastewater treatment solutions, mining operations can turn to recycled water more often and potentially reduce their water usage by up to a third.

And because increased productivity is so important in today’s mining world, Xylem considers current frameworks and designs a solution that not only maintains a present workflow but improves it.

This feature appeared in the July issue of Australian Mining.

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