World Water Day – How industry can help bring about change (March 2018)


The same water that flowed past the pyramids in the Nile thousands of years ago is being used today, recycled through the hydrological cycle. Water cannot be created, it is a finite resource. This reality means that becoming good stewards of water should be a high priority for all us. 

World Water Day is an opportunity for us to reflect on our stewardship of water and contemplate how we can reduce our water footprint. The mining and industrial sectors can be very thirsty. In most of these operations requiring water to operate and produce is given. There are, however, various ways in which these industries can contribute to reducing global water use. 

Changing our mind-set around water use and re-use is key towards achieving sustainable water management practices. Mining operations are encouraged to view their water-use holistically – think about where your operation is using fresh water and critically evaluate whether there might be another source on your site which could be a better fit. For example, could you perhaps rather be using greywater for dust suppression?  Using fit-for-purpose water is an efficient and quick way to reduce your freshwater consumption. 

New and innovative water treatment technologies have increased opportunities for water re-use within the mining and industrial sectors. As illustrated by the typical mine water balance below, Multotec’s novel continuous ion exchange technology allow for treatment of waters typically classified as “difficult-to-treat”, thereby enabling greater scope for water re-use within the context mine water consumption. Points for water re-use are shown as green drops on the picture below. One such example, is the removal of dissolved organics and ammonia from the treated effluent of the mine’s wastewater treatment plant. This will enable re-use of this water as process water and cooling tower make-up, amongst others. The Clean-iX® continuous ion exchange technology also creates opportunities for the recovery of valuable metals from mine water sources, which allows for water treatment to become part of the value-creation chain within the mining sector. Opportunities for metals recovery are shown as red drops on the picture. 

On this World Water Day, Multotec encourages you to start thinking about water differently. Water can be a source of valuable metals, water can be re-used and recycled, and water is an extremely valuable resource.