Mine Waters & Effluents, Part 3 – Treatment Technologies

Mine waters are often contaminated with toxic metals and acids, as discussed previously in this series: Part 1 - Mine Water Sources, and Part 2 - Contaminants.

Thankfully, all mine waters and effluents are treatable with the wide range of water treatment technologies available today. However selecting the correct combination of technologies – and using them in correct sequence – is critical when designing a water treatment system.

Mistakes in technology selection are common, and can make a water treatment plant inefficient and difficult to operate; often causing the following issues:

  • Fouling or scaling of equipment

  • Reduction in treated water quality

  • Low treated water recoveries

  • Increased brine volumes

  • Increased operating costs

  • Extensive sludge production

Treating contaminated pit water at a copper mine in Queensland

Treating contaminated pit water at a copper mine in Queensland. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Lime precipitation is a cornerstone technology of mine water treatment – due to its ability to treat a wide range of contaminants typically associated with acid mine drainage: acidity, sulphate and metals.