An interesting proposal to reduce the level of metals in the water significantly was presented this week. It is the unconventional contaminated water treatment system, developed by the Peruvian company PROESMIN. This system works using zeolite and activated alumina filters.
Flavia Monzón, environmental specialist of PROESMIN, presented this new system during virtual Mining Thursday—an event organized by the Peruvian Institute of Mining Engineers (IIMP)—as part of the innovative projects channeled and promoted by PERUMIN Hub, the most important mining innovation program in the country.
The value of this proposal lies in its technological process since it manages to remove heavy metal contaminants, such as mercury, lead, arsenic, and cadmium, among others, through the physical process of absorption.
“We are talking about an average removal of 97% to 99%. There are different studies that have proven the reduction of contaminants with accredited lab test, not only in drinking water, but also in industrial water, and in the acid mine drainage,” explained Monzón.
Advantages of this unconventional system
This alternative can substitute activated carbon and other metal absorption methods. The system has several advantages, one of the most relevant being the possibility of reusing waste neutralized using zeolite, which, when mixed with cement, creates zeolite concrete, a material that can be used for building road, slabs, and walls, etc.
The filters used, which are based on zeolite and activated alumina, do not need electrical energy, work at any pH level, withstand high heavy metal concentrations, and have properties underpinned with research at an international level. Finally, their costs are really low, which will make it easy to introduce them into the market and adapt them to the different reality of the mines. The estimated cost is between 2 and 5 soles per m3 of water.
Each plant’s dimensions and construction will depend on the characteristics of the mine. “Currently, there is a plant operating at more than 300 Liters/second, so size is not a problem,” pointed out Monzón.
Moreover, the experience can be replicated in any geographical area, the filters are approved by the NSF61 standard and the DWI, the filtering media are dry and last long, and the plant is easy to operate, so it does not require skilled labor.
Without a doubt, improving the quality of water has a direct impact on the development of communities, since it improves people’s quality of life and thereby guarantees a dignified life. In addition, it helps reduce inequalities and diseases, as well as strengthens the capacities of a collective organization.
The implementation of the unconventional contaminated water system’s plant comprises 4 steps: the characterization of the land and effluents, the determination of the water characteristics of the water sources (with the help of accredited laboratories), the design and building of the plant, and, finally, the commissioning of the plant, the evaluation of results, and the training of personnel to operate and maintain the plant.
It is worth noting that the raw materials are brought from abroad, and that PROESMIN is currently conducting tests to be able to produce the inputs in the country, pointed out Flavia Monzón. In the meantime, hydroxide is imported from Brazil; zeolite is brought from Cuba and Brazil; and activated zeolite and activated alumina are bought from the European market.
Participation in PERUMIN Hub
The unconventional contaminated water treatment initiative was created to respond to the challenge “How can we promote comprehensive management and the participation of water resources?” presented at the 2021 edition of PERUMIN Hub. It was a finalist in the category “Innovations to be validated” and is now suitable for its dissemination and application in an innovative way to bring solutions to the mining sector.