Water is an irreplaceable basic natural resource in many of the activities performed by Sandfire MATSA and is shared with other important activities in the local area. We are aware of this reliance, which is why the company has set itself the objective of making a progressively more responsible, sustainable use of this resource, through modern water infrastructures for the treatment, regulation, and handling of water.
We take part of the State initiative EsAgua, a unique and innovative project in our country aimed at making progress with the reduction of companies’ direct and indirect water footprint.
Sandfire MATSA obtains the Gold Category from EsAgua, in recognition of its efforts and commitment to the sustainable use of water resources.
As part of our sustainability strategy and our condition as a mining company, we have significant experience in terms of the making of decisions that promote caring for water as a resource. In this sense, studying the water footprint is a strong indicator, which provides the company with specific knowledge about its consumption of fresh water in the company’s processes and facilities, located in the Tinto, Odiel, and Piedras River Basin District.
To this end, as water is an essential resource in the entire mining process, the water footprint is a key tool for controlling and improving its use, representing a key lever in the transition towards sustainable mining.
The water footprint and its sustainability analysis suggest that the use of water at Sandfire MATSA is sustainable and accounts for just 16% of water consumption in the river basin, in comparison with bigger consumers in the area which account for 64% of the resource’s use.
With a view to managing process water more sustainably, we continue to look for areas for improvement that increase the versatility of process water treatment, providing for ideal water quality depending on each type of use, on the one hand aiming to reduce the consumption of water from external sources, continuing and increasing the water recirculation capacity that we have worked on in recent years, and on the other hand, improving the yield of operating costs.
We participate in the EU’s LIFE Project known as “Remine Water”, which pursues two objectives.
The first one is an alternative to the current physicochemical treatment train is proposed, based on the precipitation of sulfates and metallic hydroxides. This alternative consists of a Nanofiltration system, which will make it possible to achieve significantly lower sulfate concentrations.
The project also raises regulatory scenarios such as the limitation of conductivity, and therefore a desalination system based on Reverse Osmosis is used and the consequent minimization of the brine generated by a concentration system by Electrodialysis and coupled low-temperature evaporation with solar collectors.
Another parallel line focuses on the treatment of slag leachate, which will be circulated through ion exchange stages to absorb the Copper and Zinc present in the solution. The regeneration of the resins will have a system for the recovery of sulfuric acid and electrodeposition of the metals for their internal recovery in the plant.
Sandfire MATSA is 21st Century mining, so our processes are committed to environment and sustainability and the company has made a considerable effort in recent years to promote water recirculation, to minimize freshwater consumption in the different stages of the process and to do its best participating in the EU´s LIFE Project.