Chile predicts 230 per cent rise in seawater use in mining

Projections from the Chilean Ministry of Mines are for 230 per cent growth in use of seawater by the nation’s copper mining industry in the next 10 years.

A report published by Comision Chilena del Cobre in December 2018 predicts that the copper mining industry will increase its use of seawater by 230 per cent by 2029. This compares to an increase of 12 per cent in the use of other water resources.

The figures are based on a significant increase in copper production and an expected increase in the use of sulphide ores which require a more water-intensive process. The projected growth in seawater use takes into account existing plans for new seawater pumping projects and proposals to construct new seawater desalination plants. The report says that the majority of new mining projects and extensions to existing projects expect to use seawater either directly or with desalination.

The full report is available in Spanish on the Comision’s website.

The mining industry consumes only three per cent of the nation’s water, but is generally located in arid regions where the impact on water resources is magnified. The report is intended to help mining companies to plan their resources use, and to inform the water industry of projected increases in demand.

Internatlonal mining companies are meeting to discuss water management strategies and technologies at Water in Mining, a global event to be held in Toronto, April 2019. For more details please visit the Water in Mining website.