Mine dewatering equipment supplier Weir Minerals Africa is exploring enhanced holistic measures to tackle mine dewatering in Africa.
The company, a subsidiary of Scottish engineering company Weir Group, has long provided the global and local mining and industrial sectors with sustainable and cost-effective solutions for the management, disposal and recycling of mine waste – particularly mine wastewater.
Consequently, Weir Minerals Africa provides integrated solutions for solutions service for mining and industrial operations that are fit-for-purpose and take into account the specific requirements of the end client. “The Integrated Solutions offering will include well-known brands such as Warman, GEHO, Multiflo and Cavex,” states Weir Minerals Africa dewatering product manager Tefo Moholi.
Meanwhile, as the mining industry, particularly mineral processing plants, is under pressure to improve its water and waste management, such as tailings, Weir is partnering with global technology group supplier Andritz to offer innovative dewatering solutions for various applications.
“This partnership will enable us to provide extensive options in dewatering applications, such as complete tailings treatment solutions, which we classify as part of our integrated solutions offering,” Moholi enthuses.
He says the Integrated Solutions option is a natural progression for the company. “More often than not mines are looking to optimise their process rather than buying a product. This approach makes it easier for Weir Minerals Africa to offer them a complete solution, rather than just one piece of equipment.”
Moholi states that the Integrated Solutions offering come into play when a client requires a comprehensive dewatering solution. “We want to optimise the use of the equipment and solutions, compared with standalone equipment. So, when we package everything together, our intention is to optimise our clients’ process to achieve the desired results.”
Weir Minerals also actively and continuously invests in research and development programmes and has established the Weir Technical Centre, in Melbourne, Australia, in 2016.
“This has enhanced the company’s global tailings offering by developing and testing our different tailings solutions and pipeline designs, as well as manufacturing specific tailings-based products.” Moholi goes on to explain that the new technology will “be holistically intro- duced, from the utilisation, environmental impact and cost perspectives”.
Weir Minerals Africa is set to take the lead in providing reliable tailings solutions that will, in turn, ensure the health and safety of the mining operations and communities where they operate, Moholi says.
Further, with the mining industry realising that “a comprehensive and flexible dewatering or water management strategy is key”, Weir Minerals Africa is continuously researching the latest technology that can, and is, enabling mining and minerals processing operations to effectively remove water from mines.
Weir Minerals Africa focuses on how the water can be put to good use afterwards. “Of course, you would like to come up with holistic plans of getting rid of the water, including recovering it for reuse in the processing operations,” Moholi stresses.
Water is a scarce commodity and needs to be conserved, he emphasises, noting that “water conservation remains prob- ably one of the most important interventions, not only for the survival of humankind but also of mining operations and industries, which tends to make mines more environmentally cautious in the way they treat and dispose of water”.
No two mines or minerals processing facilities are the same – each site’s dewatering requirements will vary with general plant layout, environmental and geological conside- rations, as well as local climatic variations, which are likely to present unique challenges for each case.
One such challenge is dewatering at underground mines, as they “often have issues with flooding and water seepage and, in some instances, can be affected by heavy rainfall”, Moholi points out.
Further, several underground mines that are closer to the surface are having to mine deeper to reach the precious resources, Moholi highlights. “As a result, the technology and equipment that we offer have become quite appealing, as we see our technology as a valuable asset in dewatering the deepest levels of mines.”
Another challenge is the processing plants on the surface. “The plants have to process the ore being brought to surface, and they need water to do it,” he reiterates.
The dewatering technology must help the minerals processing operations with water balances and retention of water in their circuits, Moholi says.
“We are continuously developing comprehensive and flexible dewatering solutions for mines. Coming up with a dewatering strategy for each and every mine is essential,” he concludes.