Researchers at the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) have developed a new procedure to optimize water consumption in the mining industry. This new procedure, based on digitalized real-time monitoring and process simulation, will enable water to be recycled, without the incurrence of losses during the ore enrichment process. The researchers opted to initially test their procedure for the extraction of the mineral fluorite, which is enriched in a flotation process that typically consumes up to 4,000 liters of water per extracted ton.
One problem of using recycled water is that it contains chemical substances that may hamper the hydrophobization of the fluoride. After observing the change processes in the laboratory, the researchers transferred their findings on the digitized control of mineral beneficiation processes to the HSC Sim simulation software , which allows for the management of water recycling without compromising the process efficiency. Further planned process optimizations could reduce water consumption down to as low as 1,000 liters per ton.
Sustainability is a key issue in other fields of industry, too: Czech automotive manufacturer Škoda is already recycling 42% of its annual water consumption .