What Goes on Behind the Virtual Curtain? Mining Wastewater Turned into Rainwater

By: | August 5th, 2014

Mining is necessary since it’s a big player in our economy. But mining can have adverse effects on surrounding surface and ground water so it’s important to use the most innovative and sustainable practices where possible.

New technology called Virtual Curtain used in Queensland, Australia

A new environmentally friendly treatment has been found to turn mining wastewater into rainwater at a Queensland mine site. This can significantly reduce the sludge by up to 90%. Sludge is a mud like material; it’s a by-product of wastewater treatment and has environmental impact since it needs to be stored in pits for long-term disposal.

As the mining industry all over the world generates millions of tons of wastewater each year, reducing the sludge can have huge environmental and economic benefits.

How they managed to do it:

It doesn’t require complex infrastructure but the contaminants already present in the wastewater are adjusted to an ideal ratio to form hydrotalcites in treating the waste. Virtual Curtain utilizes hydrotalcites, which are minerals sometimes found in stomach antacids, to simultaneously trap contaminants like arsenic, cadmium, and iron.

The treatment effectively removed a range of metal contaminants from wastewater and safely discharged the equivalent of around 20 Olympic swimming pools of rainwater-quality water.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

More articles from Industry Tap...