Sustainable Mining means Sustainable Water Management

Fresh off E2metrix’s first CIM Convention & Expo, held last week in Montreal, it is clear to me that Canada’s mining industry is on the right track. Ihsen Ben Salah, our VP of Technology & Innovation, and I were on hand at our booth to meet with stakeholders from the mining industry to address their challenges in applying sustainability practices to one of the biggest challenge mines face: the responsible use and management of water.

I also had the opportunity to present on the CIM Expo Innovation Stage ECOTHOR™, our cost-effective cleantech platform for the control and removal of contaminants from mine water, mill water and wastewater. With 10 patents (issued and pending) covering our proprietary electrocoagulation, electrooxidation and electro-disinfection processes, ECOTHOR™ can use its small footprint and ease of operability to address various current contaminants faced by miners and mineral processors, including ammonia nitrogen, heavy & dissolved metals, long chain hydrocarbons, suspended solids (TSS) and others. Moreover, E2metrix is currently pursuing work to investigate other emerging contaminants, including selenium, cyanides, thiosalts and others. An exciting project at two Canadian mines to address multiple contaminants will be initiated in the coming weeks.

I was encouraged to see several sessions dedicated to water at CIM. Water is used in mineral processing, but it is also collected on site, including in the mines themselves. One challenge faced by mines includes the pick up of ammonia nitrogen in mine water from residual explosives. Without proper treatment, ammonia-laden water is toxic to fish and cannot be discharged back into the environment. ECOTHOR™, benefitting from its magnesium-based anodes, can be applied to reduce the ammonia levels to well under toxic levels. With new regulations coming into force in 2021 with limits on ammonia discharge, many Canadian mines must address this moving forward.

ECOTHOR™ can also be applied to other industrial wastewater, along with municipal wastewater and landfill leachate. Nutrient removal (ammonia nitrogen & phosphorus), metals, hydrocarbons, fats/oils & greases (FOGs), BOD5, COD are all typical contaminants addressed by ECOTHOR™, along with other emerging contaminants (ex. fluorides, PFAS).

The interactions that Ihsen and I had at CIM were very positive. Each stakeholder understands that the stakes are high. Water sustainability means mine sustainability. E2metrix looks to contribute this momentum by offering ECOTHOR™, its game-changing electrotechnology to address some of these important, pressing challenges that the mining industry faces.

By: Tom Whitton, E2metrix Inc.