Finding opportunities to reuse the processed groundwater, produced by mining and drilling, prevents environmental damage while saving money. Trucking in or pumping up fresh groundwater to supply new mines and fracking operations represents a substantial cost. So, building a lagoon or two to hold used groundwater over for reuse can cut water costs significantly, while improving the environmental sustainability of your operation. Yet, storing and processing groundwater for reuse in mining and oil extraction methods comes with plenty of challenges. Make sure your groundwater storage lagoons and ponds are up to the task with these considerations.
Direct or Indirect Uses
Wastewater produced during the mining process can have both direct and indirect uses. In addition to re-circulation through the mines or wells to recapture minerals and metals, other potential uses include:
- Backfilling unstable voids underground by removing ore or rock deposits
- Dust suppression sprays for dirt and gravel roads, both on the work site and as a product sold to municipal departments
- Coolant for power generation or mining processes that generate a lot of friction
- Construction materials, including concrete that is improved by the addition of ash or mineral rich groundwater
- Repurposing of sludge as a wastewater flocculant to settle sewage
- Raw ingredients for creating or enriching bricks, ceramics, rockwool, and other mineral based products
- Soil amendments and fertilizers for groundwater high in nitrogen or dissolved phosphorous.
Further Processing and Refining
Most wastewater products, pumped back up from the ground for reuse, require some additional processing first. Some processing techniques are so advanced they are used to transform mining groundwater and wastewater into fresh drinking water that is perfectly safe for humans and animals alike. Reverse osmosis membrane systems are particular popular since the equipment can remove dissolved solids, suspended particles, and chemical components in various stages. Clean water is easy to apply to multiple reuse opportunities, including both on-site and off-site options for savings.
Condensing Valuable Components
By running previously used groundwater through mines or wells once more before processing it, the concentration of fuel, minerals, or metal ore is increased dramatically. However, this only works if the wastewater has the right viscosity and other properties to be pumped through the same deposit without further treatment. This is particularly common in mineral mining operations for rare materials like lithium and cobalt. Groundwater often naturally accumulates some amount of the mineral but concentrates rapidly after multiple rounds of pumping through porous underground deposits.
Preventing Water Shortages
Making good use of existing groundwater that is pumped up for mining and processing purposes is legally required in many parts of the world. In areas where droughts can leave industrial operations competing for the dwindling water resources needed for drinking and agriculture, water reuse is the best way to work around the shortages and restrictions. Failing to reuse a certain amount of existing wastewater can result in high fines in some regions. Storing wastewater in lined lagoons also protects existing groundwater supplies to ensure they can be used to their full potential for potable and agricultural uses.
Regardless of whether your mining wastewater is ready to reuse directly after pumping or will need treatment first, lagoons sealed with flexible liners work best for storing the liquid both short and long term. Choose a liner that won’t react to the chemicals in your wastewater or release chemicals to further alter its composition. BTL Liners’ ArmorPro works equally well for storage, evaporation, and processing ponds used to store all kinds of groundwater and wastewater. It’s light weight and made from multi-layered RPE for the optimal combination of flexibility, tear and chemical resistance, and easy installation.