Mining industry challange
The mining industry's biggest challenge is large-scale production with minimal environmental impact and long-term storage of residual products. On a global level, the mining industry is also facing growing challenges regarding water consumption.
Tailings is a residual product in mining which is crushed and ground mineral, consisting mainly of leftover mineral after valuable minerals and metals have been separated from the ore and separated in a beneficiation plant. It is pumped together with process water as suspension, finely ground sand and water, to sand reservoirs in large ponds to be deposited there. The sand settles in the reservoirs and excess water is led to a clarification pond. A sandbox is a permanent device. Mining operations are dependent on this product being managed in a sustainable manner during and after the mine's lifetime. After the completion of mineral extraction and the closure of the mine, the surface is post-treated and adapted so that it can be left without being a burden to the surroundings, e.g. it can be covered with soil to create a plant landscape.
The water must be used as sparingly as possible in the enrichment process and must also be able to be recovered and reused. In addition, they strive for a generally reduced environmental impact and reduced waste costs. Smaller and safer waste dams are part of this, and many mining companies have difficulty getting permission to expand the dams. As the sand reservoir often holds large, heavy amounts of enrichment sand and water, there is a risk that the construction will fail - so-called dam failure or dam failure - and that enrichment sand and mine water will leak out, which can lead to serious consequences.
This requires new sustainable total solutions for handling the enrichment sand and other residual products. Conventionally, tailings and mine water have been pumped untreated to tailing ponds or dewatered in centrifuges or various types of low-pressure thickeners. In new controlled processes with more efficient dewatering with higher pressure, a thicker suspension is created, like paste in consistency, which results in a safer and more cost-effective landfill with less environmental impact. More efficient dewatering of the landfill material means that the water can be reused in the enrichment process. Therefore, the method is particularly attractive in dry areas. With the paste method, the enrichment sand can be piled up instead of being pumped out into open ponds. This means that the deposition area becomes significantly smaller to the surface compared to the conventional way. It also makes it easier to safely restore nature when a mine will one day cease operations.
German ABEL GmbH are experts in applications where it is necessary to pump abrasive and aggressive media in extreme conditions and under high pressure and which require frequent pumping over long distances. The advantage of ABEL piston diaphragm pumps is that they have no rotating metal parts in direct contact with the suspension. This means that heavy wear on pump parts is avoided. Thanks to the low flow rate in the pump and low operating speeds, they are subject to much less wear and tear than other alternative technologies. The pumps can handle dry contents up to 75%, pressure up to 250 bar and are available in sizes with flows up to 410 m3/h. The pumps, which are of the compression principle, have a high volumetric efficiency of over 90% and therefore have lower energy requirements than centrifugal pumps. Overall, this makes for an excellent pump to use in the new sustainable process solutions for creating paste from tailings and other tailings.
Other areas of use for ABEL pumps in the mining industry are pumping of concentrate from thickener underpasses, backfill to stabilize rock rooms, mine tunnels and cavities, feeding filter presses during dewatering, backwashing of filter presses when cleaning filter cloths, dewatering of mining sites with high lift heights.