Should wastewater management be the top priority in your sustainability plan?

Axora talks to Tracy Kessner, Vice President of Business Operations from Avivid Water Technology, an innovative wastewater treatment company. We discuss the importance of wastewater management in helping mining companies achieve their sustainability goals.

Q. What are the reasons for wastewater management being made a priority in mining recently?

TK: With the global focus on acquiring rare earth mineral resources and the electrification of the grid, there is an urgent need to make changes. Increasing the efficiency and recovery rates of existing mining processes, remediating contaminated water sources on abandoned mining lands, and recovering valuable resources are key priorities. Mining companies must maintain their social license to operate by protecting the environment or remediating abandoned mine lands, all while increasing their output to meet growing demands.

Q. Was a lack of technology a factor in wastewater management being viewed as a lower environmental priority for mining companies in the past?

TK: Previously mining companies focused on increasing production, satisfying investors, and meeting existing permit regulations. Now permit regulations are beginning to tighten as the demand for minerals is increasing year on year. At the same time, investors are demanding the mining industry do its part to develop sustainability goals and stewardship programs. Innovative technology is the key to environmental protection and decreased operational expenses while increasing recovery levels of critical minerals.

Q: How does electrocoagulation, an emerging technology in wastewater management, differ from other water maintenance techniques?

TK: Avivid’s technology replaces chemicals used to clean wastewater (e.g., ferrous sulfate, aluminium chlorohydrate, or PAC) without the extra sulfates and chlorides they leave behind or the health hazards they present. Electrocoagulation removes heavy metals, suspended solids, emulsified oils, and microorganisms from mining water which can then be released or reused. Our unique process creates less waste and the waste produced is metal rich and can be processed to recover valuable metals if present, unlike chemical treatment.

Q. How does this wastewater management technology differ and stand out from others on the market?

TK: Avivid has solved the issues of sludge buildup and anode corrosion that affect legacy electrocoagulation (EC) systems with its patented reactor, TurboCoag®. Competitive advantages over legacy EC is that it is self-cleaning, reliable, provides continuous operation until anode dissolution and is easy to maintain. The reactor exposes more water in less time, using less energy, improving treatment efficiency and effectiveness while providing additional operational improvements and savings for operators.

Q. How do you think the use of projects like this will impact the mining industry's sustainability objectives?

TK: This kind of project will appeal to operators that are intent on meeting sustainability goals because it meets several objectives at one time. Providing essential materials and clean water while decreasing waste volume, hauling, and disposal fees are significant wins for the industry. Wastewater treatment via EC can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and labour costs. Motivated by cost savings and the need to maximise resource recovery, it could also promote the remediation of abandoned mining lands.

Q. Have you seen any trends in the adoption of this treatment across different-sized regions and countries?

TK: We've received expressions of interest in our solution from North America to Singapore, Africa, Australia, and Mexico. Many industries can benefit from EC since it's so effective on heavy metals and mixed contaminants. One trend we've seen is interest in our ability to remove fluoride, which appears in landfill leachate as well as mining water.