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Water-intensive mining operations, like this gold processing plant are ripe for innovative approaches such as closed-loop systems.

A holistic approach to water sustainability is necessary in an age of intensifying water scarcity

Growth in the mining water and wastewater treatment market is globally driven by a mining industry striving for waterless operation and greater sustainability. Concerns over where to source water are unavoidable during a period of depleted resources and a proliferation of regulation, forcing the industry to seek holistic strategies for its water management, including water reuse and the adoption of the information technology and expertise to make best use of available water.

Closed Loop and Digitization

As the name implies, once-through processes simply use water once and then discharge it, often worse for wear. Closed-loop systems reuse water. The efficiency of closed-loop systems has long been accepted as superior to that of once-through systems in water-intensive industries such as the thermoelectric power sector. Mining is another extremely water-intensive industry overdue for adoption of closed-loop water reuse.

Likewise, digitization of water processes offers a host of efficiency and sustainability benefits throughout the water cycle in terms of:

  • Reliability
  • Real-time event monitoring
  • Process optimization
  • Chemical and energy demand
  • Manpower allocation
  • Customer experience

Now, according to market research from Frost & Sullivan, the water-intensive mining industry is poised to widely adopt closed-loop systems and digital technology upgrades, presenting not only increased improvement of mine operations, but significant growth opportunities for the wastewater treatment companies that provide the solutions. Frost & Sullivan estimates the current $4.73 billion market will catapult to $7.97 billion by 2023, driven by intensively networked mining that relies upon strategic partnerships with companies that provide technology and support for closed-loop technologies.

In 2018, the highest share of the market, 32.4%, was held by Latin America. Asia-Pacific came in second at 27.4%, with North America following at 21.4%. Growth potential will fluctuate, however, with sensitivity to the general business environment in a particular area, local law transparency, and the current level of technology adoption in the region.

Growth Opportunities in Holistic Mine Water Management

In mine water management, opportunities for strong growth can be found in many areas, including:

  • Holistic, smart-data solutions for cost-efficiency and sustainability throughout mining’s value chain, and in partnerships with the expertise to make the best use of them
  • The use of renewables to cut the operating expense of desalination
  • The use of advanced equipment and chemicals to achieve higher treatment levels necessary for zero liquid discharge (ZLD)

External to mine operations, significant opportunities also exist for investment in local infrastructure.

Fluence provides a number of industrial solutions to achieve closed-loop or ZLD mining water treatment. They’re set apart by quickly deployable units with lower power demand than traditional wastewater treatment and desalination processes. Fluence’s Smart Packaged units can be quickly delivered and commissioned with little site preparation or construction, and can be moved from one mining site to the next with little difficulty. Our Smart Operations software suite provides real-time, remote monitoring of units, and optimizes operating and maintenance costs.

Fluence has already done the revolutionary thinking that Frost & Sullivan calls for, with mature technologies pre-engineered to address what once could have been complex obstacles to holistic mining water management. Contact Fluence to learn more about our sustainable solutions for the mining industry.

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