After months of preparation, the LIFE Remine Water project has launched its Mining Water Living Lab, located at the Aguas Teñidas Mine in Huelva, at Sandfire MATSA‘s facilities. This space, designed to be the first platform for technological experimentation in water treatment in the mining sector, will have as its main objective the research and development of innovative treatment solutions supported by renewable energies to promote the recovery of resources and the reuse of water in the mining sector industries.
Water management is a critical component in the operation of a mine, where the extraction processes depend on this resource to facilitate the subsequent treatment and production of minerals. In a linear economy model, despite improved wastewater treatment processes and partial reuse of internal water flows to reduce the water footprint, water is still returned to the environment after quality adjustment and dissolved metals are managed as waste.
In this context, Remine Water seeks to transform the current process into a circular one. To achieve this, it will use a water treatment train that minimizes discharge to the environment by recovering more than 90% of water for subsequent reuse. This system, which will be validated at the Mining Water Living Lab, is partly powered by solar thermal energy, thus erasing its carbon footprint associated with evaporation processes operation and achieving a more sustainable and economical process. In addition, a second treatment line will allow the recovery of 70% of the copper and 40% of the zinc present in metal-rich acidic streams.
Co-funded by the European Union’s LIFE programme, this project is coordinated by Cetaqua Barcelona (Water Technology Centre), a public-private collaboration model that was created to guarantee the sustainability and efficiency of the integral water cycle, taking into account territorial needs.
This initiative also involves Sandfire MATSA, where the pilot plant of the project is located and which has already been making large investments in water infrastructures for years to guarantee the supply and efficient management of the resource in the mines, treating industrial water and protecting the natural resources of its environment.
The project consortium is also made up by Łukasiewicz-Institute of Non-Ferrous Metals of Poland (IMN), in charge of studying the replicability of the process in the mining and metallurgical industry; and the French SME Newheat, specialized in the implementation of solar thermal energy projects in industries, which will demonstrate the economic feasibility of using this type of energy in water treatment processes in the mining sector, are also collaborating with the project.