If we look at obtaining and retaining a social license to operate – for the last three years, the top challenge facing the mining industry, according to EY – we can see a clear benefit to both the environment and business through the employment of sustainable water solutions.
To help resolve this challenge and meet our MissionZero ambition, FLSmidth recently launched a new development in filter presses that makes water reuse easier - and less time consuming and costly for the mining industry.
A balancing act for mining
Shareholders, customers, employees and neighbouring communities increasingly expect miners to not only support global development, but operate profitably and to do so while lessening the industry’s environmental footprint and water use. The mining industry now has the opportunity to redefine itself when it comes to environmental impacts and to embrace or develop more sustainable solutions, practices and technologies – and, in particular, those that improve water stewardship.
Solving this water-based conundrum was top of the agenda just over twelve months ago when we launched MissionZero, our initiative to enable the mining industry to move towards zero water and energy waste by 2030.
A cost-competitive, large-scale filter press can recycle up to 95% of waterRecently, driven by our MissionZero R&D focus, we launched a new development in our filter press offering, called the AFP2525 Automatic Filter Press. The AFP2525 marked a significant amelioration within FLSmidth filter press range, due to lower maintenance costs combined with the potential to recycle and reuse a significant amount water. As a result, the high-efficiency, large-capacity, dewatering equipment both reduces the need for fresh water intake and cuts costs for the mine site.
By employing a filter press to remove the water from tailings waste, miners can eliminate the need for wet tailings dams, while the reuse of process water minimises environmental, cuts complexity and helps attain a social licence to operate. It meets growing customer demand for fast and efficient water recovery and illustrates our determination to meet our MissionZero ambition.
Easy maintenance cuts costs making water reuse more economically viable
When treating tailings at high volumes, even the smallest process disruptions add up financially for miners. That’s why the AFP2525 focusses heavily on ease and speed of maintenance – for instance, the AFP2525 provides fast plate-pack removal, while cloth change and plate maintenance happen outside of the filter, ensuring maximum efficiency and safety while the filter is operating.
As well as the lowest cost per ton of production, the AFP2525 also delivers the lowest cake moistures and the highest production rates – 300 tph from a single filter; 7,200 tpd. The AFP2525 is also highly durable and long-lasting due to a maintenance-friendly, robust design so it is built to last for the life of the mine and beyond.
That means that the AFP2525 Automatic Filter Press delivers high availability and efficiency, with the lowest cost possible – in fact, the lowest cost per ton in its class.
The biggest challenges in the adoption of these solutions have been maintenance issues, cost and suitability at large-scale mines. We have taken a big step in removing these barriers.
A step change for tailings management and water stewardship
So, why does the AFP2525 provide a step change in this area? Firstly, the technology has been rethought so the filter is easy to maintain, which means costly downtime is minimised. Secondly, the filter is very efficient and operates at high capacity – i.e., it maximises water recovery and is suitable for large-scale mines.
Additionally, fast filtration rates and short mechanical times minimise the filter cycle time; this combination of speed and reliability result in the lowest cost per ton in the industry. With the AFP2525 Automatic Filter Press, miners can expect an average of 93% availability and up to 95% recovery of process water. That makes it not only a key solution in FLSmidth’s MissionZero ambition to eliminate water waste but also in the fight for sustainable water use globally.