Digital system optimises water efficiency in mining industry


Thursday, 11 April, 2019


Digital system optimises water efficiency in mining industry

A procedure to optimise water consumption in the mining industry has been developed by researchers at the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) in Germany. Mineral ore extraction requires immense quantities of water; the new digital system developed at HIF aims to optimise the extraction process by improving efficiency and reducing freshwater consumption.

The procedure digitalises real-time monitoring and process simulation, enabling water to be recycled without incurring losses during the ore enrichment process. The procedure was initially tested in the extraction of the mineral fluorite, which is enriched in a flotation process that typically consumes up to 4000 L of water per extracted ton.

A potential problem of using recycled water is that it contains chemical substances that may hamper the hydrophobisation of the fluorite. The researchers tested and observed the digitised control of mineral beneficiation in the laboratory, transferring their findings to the HSC Sim simulation software, which manages water recycling without compromising efficiency.

Additional process optimisations are planned, which may reduce water consumption to as low as 1000 L per ton.

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Bart Sadowski

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