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How Can Mines Manage Salt Levels in Water?
20 November 2018
How Can Mines Manage Salt Levels in Water?

As a mining manager, you have a lot on your plate. You have to ensure that your operation runs smoothly, that there are no safety issues and that the project is finished on time. With all of these situations and administrative duties happening, you also need to think of ways to manage your water consumption and output. 

Mines create an influx of brackish water on the environment. This can be highly detrimental to the ecosystem there and can cause other issues such as poisonous water in streams and toxicity in soil. If you are starting a mining project, read on below for advice on how mines can manage salt levels in the water. 


Invest in a water treatment unit

One of the best ways to help with managing brackish water in mines is to invest in a water treatment unit. You can contact water treatment companies for advice on what the best options are and discuss their water treatment services for future projects too. 

These treatment units deal with effluent water as well as salt water and also could recycle water for reuse. This unit will help with the legacy risks that saltwater management brings with it. You will also find these units cost-effective and efficient, as they are easy-to-use and eco-friendly. By using non-chemical treatment processes, you will not be damaging the environment further by attempting to manage salt levels in your mine’s water. 


Plant salt-tolerant plants in discharge areas

This might sound like extra effort, but if you have a project that will be lasting for a while, it is a good idea to plant salt-tolerant plants in the discharge areas. This way, you can bring the land back to productive use because the vegetation will not have died off and the soil will remain usable. 

These discharge areas can be particularly hard to replenish if the salt water from your mine is being sent there. In order to remedy this serious environmental problem, look for plants that can handle soil with a high salinity level. This way, you can replenish the area once your project is over and you will be limiting your impact on the environment. These plants will lower the water-table and prevent further salt build-up on the soil surface. 


Look into drainage options

One way to reduce the amount of salt water that seeps into the soil is to look into drainage options. While this might not reduce the salt levels, you will still be managing the impact that the mine water has on the surrounding environment. 

There are several options to choose from, including the following: 

  • Surface drainage: This is used to route floodwaters and subsurface drain outflows as well as surface water away from areas that might be problematic. This can reduce soil erosion as well as waterlogging with saline water. You could also reuse the excess water gathered for other mining operations. 
  • Subsurface drainage: Subsurface drainage prevents waterlogging. There are two options you can look into, namely relief drainage for a high water-table in order to lower the water-table so the salt water does not reach plant roots and interception drainage which prevents seepage of groundwater from a higher level. 
  • Groundwater pumping: Groundwater pumping allows you to pump the groundwater away from the site, lowering the amount of salt water in the groundwater and in the soil. This is an effective option to look into but you will need to know how much water has to be pumped, how this water can be extracted, and how the water will be disposed of. 

Draining the water from the mining site is effective in reducing the amount of salt water seeping into the land as well as help to reduce your environmental impact. 


Consider different methods

One way to help reduce the salt levels in your water would be to think of different mining methods, both below and above ground. This means that you will need to think of new ways to do things, such as not using explosive mining measures which can harm both the soil and the water of the mine. 

You can perform research on the different measures being used, such as products that crack rocks without the need for explosions. Some of these products are simply mixed with clean water, poured into a pre-drilled hole in the rock and then expand inside the hole, causing the rock to crack silently and without any damage to the environment. Because you are not using an explosive method, the impact on the environment is decreased. 


Final thoughts

Managing the levels of salt in your mine water is vital. As a mining project manager, you will need to take the impact your mine has on the environment very seriously. You could invest in a water treatment unit to handle the brackish water, plant plants that can help to reduce the waterlogging and salinity levels of the discharge area and research possible drainage options. This way, the water that is released from your mine will be lower in salt and not as harmful to the environment. 

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