Berghof Membranes, with its extensive experience in treating industrial effluent using PVDF tubular membranes, developed a compact AnMBR system for the Wisconsinbased dairy processor.
The metal and mining sector deals with the location and extraction of metal and mineral reserves, producing a wide range of metals, and minerals. These products are later used for manufacturing automobiles, electric and industrial equipment, jewelry, and many others, providing an idea of the hugeness of the metal and mining sector. It is in fact one of the most intensive water users. The extraction and processing of metals and minerals generate large amounts of highly polluted wastewater, which is frequently disposed of on-site in large ponds.
The quantity and quality of the mining wastewater greatly depend on the ground characteristics and vary widely from mine to mine. The main pollutants are dissolved minerals, including metals, sulfates, and hardness. On the contrary, contaminants such as organic matter such as COD and BOD are not typically an issue of concern.
The main waste stream generated by mining activities is the so-called mine tailings, consisting of the materials left over after the process of separating the valuable metals from the ore. Therefore, tailings are a mixture of water, ground rock, and process effluents generated in the mine processing plant. They can be highly polluting and dangerous due to the presence of toxic chemicals, heavy metals, sulfides, and radioactive compounds.
Acid mine drainage
Acid mine drainage (AMD) is the mining wastewater of greatest concern. It is an acidic stream with high concentrations of dissolved metals and sulphates. The AMD is generated when sulfide minerals are present in the tailings. In contact with the air, and usually with bacterial activity, sulfuric acid is formed. Due to the low pH, metals such as copper, lead, cadmium, arsenic are dissolved. In contact with surface or groundwater, the effects on the environment can be devastating.
Finally, there are residual sources of wastewater, such as the washing water from cleaning equipment containing mud, debris, and emulsified oil. Lastly, domestic wastewater generated in the mine camps in remote locations is a stream of wastewater typically seen in the mining sector.
The fact that water is critical in any type of mining activity is unquestionable. On the one hand, mines are often located in remote sites with scarce water supplies. Many mines in South America use seawater that, after desalination, is pumped hundreds of km to high-altitude mining sites. This entails high operational costs with intensive use of energy.
Additionally, mining wastewater is known to have a huge impact on the environment. Affections such as environmental disasters by leaking ponds, groundwater pollution or harm to wildlife have led to a highly unfavourable public perception and to a strict regulatory scrutiny. The result is the rising awareness within mining operators and the investment in efficient water management systems for treating with high standards, reusing water by means of ZLD approaches and also improving the recovery of metals.
The target contaminants in mine tailings and AMD are dissolved metals, which are removed by physical-chemical processes. Traditionally, chemical precipitation and separation processes (clarifiers, multimedia filters) have been combined. However, the need for achieving better effluent quality and the increasing interest in water recycling has put into play more advanced and efficient membrane-based technologies.
The external ultrafiltration of Berghof Membranes provides different solutions for mining wastewater, satisfying the most common demands from the mining industry: robustness, compactness, modularity and ease of maintenance are crucial features for any equipment to be installed in the remote mining locations.
Direct UF is applied for tailings and AMD, usually coupled to a chemical precipitation process. When high pH is required for metal removal, CR membranes are installed. Berghof membranes are also applied for the recovery of valuable metals. The decentralized treatment of the domestic-type wastewater from the remote mining camps is also addressed with the external MBR solution.
Made in a state-of-the art LEAN-production facility, with highly-trained production personnel and materials of the highest quality.
With 50 years of experience and more than 2.000 projects worldwide, Berghof Membranes is the leading manufacturer of high quality tubular ultrafiltration membranes.
50 years of experience and more than 2.000 project references across the globe.
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