Management of water in the mining industry is a hot topic. As the driest inhabited continent on Earth, Australia already suffers from water scarcity. With climate change’s effects, water management and its use in mines will come under closer watch. The Australian Government strictly overlooks water usage to prevent waste, while domestic industries work together to ensure our water supply is used appropriately. The mining sector must also manage water treatment, and despite this, as far as a dust suppression tool, H2O is far from ideal.

How is water used in mining?

Mining is a very water-intensive industry. In mineral exploration, processing, slurry transport, dust suppression, fire control, flotation, grinding, screening, dust scrubbing, wash water, pump gland seal water, reagent mixing, cooling of equipment, and to meet the water needs of employees. Mining operations need water to process ore and run camp operations.

This is a result of the unique challenges posed by the location and climate of mining activities. Operations are situated in remote locations where access to local supplies of water is not available. Hence, requires hauling water over long distances.

Water for Dust Suppression

Traditionally water is predominantly used as a dust suppressant on mine sites.

These traditional water-based methods employed by miners to mitigate the generation of coal, silica, and other hazardous dust are ineffective due to the water’s chemistry, and wasteful due to the amount of continual watering required to try and manage mining dust.

Ore processing generally relies on high volumes of water mainly because its properties don’t fit the different chemistries of dust particles. 

As a liquid, water is susceptible to evaporation and temperature changes, rendering it problematic in areas with high temperatures that generate a lot of dust. 

In 2005, Rio Tinto’s Argyle Diamond mine used more than 3,500 megalitres of water from its lake water resource to run operations.

To get technical for a moment, water’s high surface tension means it interacts with dust particles differently.

Most dust particles tend to be “water-hating” in nature, meaning the surface tension between water and the dust particles is very high. 

In practice, this high surface water tension means the binding properties of water are lost as the dust particles tend to repel it.

This is where water additives come in.

Very effective at controlling dust, additives reduce the surface tension of water and improve its ability to form wet surfaces and droplets. 

Water additives are ideal for mining operations, construction sites, farming, and even military applications, amongst many other situations where dust control is a priority.

GRT’s Haul-Loc product is a liquid polymer’s mining and resource sector version. It reduces required water by 50% and offers up to an improved five-fold duration of dust control on Haul roads compared to water alone. 

How GRT’s SMART Dosing technology can help? 

Problems with regular dust suppression:

  • Manual dosing causes inaccuracies in product quantity and water usage.
  • Inaccurate dosing resulting in excess water usage for mine dust suppression.
  • No monitoring systems in place to track water consumption.
  • Inefficient water management for more water-cart trips and higher carbon footprints.
  • Dust control downtime results in higher dust levels leading to worker health and safety issues.

GRT’s SMART dosing unit can help with the following:

  • Automatically dosing dust suppression products without manual input.
  • Manage the water flow used for dust suppression, so water is not wasted.
  • Remote control to adjust product dosage and water flow rate.
  • Gathering data around dust control product levels, water usage rates, and energy.
  • Consumption rates and any maintenance issues to achieve zero downtime in the dust control process. 

Right now, decision-making to preserve and manage water in mining is a top priority around the country. 

And, annual sustainability reports – factoring in water savings – are set to become critical for ESG monitoring and the future of mining operations.

In Summary

For the mining industry, no water means no business.

Due partly to climate change, water use is becoming increasingly restricted.

Good water management is more critical now than ever for use across mineral processing, dust suppression, slurry transport, and employees’ needs.

As a leader in the dust suppression field, GRT supports miners and industrial applications with various additives to improve water management and efficiency.

As a precious resource, water is often wasted in dust suppression activities, and it’s our mission at GRT to help with the problem. 

To learn more, visit our SMART Dosing Units page!

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