A question of balance – Canadian Mining Journal
Today, the mining industry faces sociopolitical issues due to freshwater usage the amount of pollution created. Simultaneously, the industry is facing operational challenges caused by water scarcity quality around the world. To keep up with increasing metal dem decreasing mineral content in the ore, the site capacities have been growing. In general, the lower the ore grade, the more water-intensive the extraction processes is. Higher metal dem has led to 5%-plus increases in water usage anually in the mining industry. In the future, over 50% of new mining investments will be located in high to extreme water-scarce areas.
At the same time, water positive countries need to reduce the amount of effluent generated. In both cases, the closure of process water loops seems to be the only answer to improve sociopolitical issues secure the water needed for process operation. The sociopolitical stresses have created intense pressure to use water more efficiently in the mining industry. Furthermore, laws environmental permits that restrict the use of water are tightening. Achieving a social licence to operate is more more critical for mining companies.