• Breakthrough technology revolutionises metal recovery from mine water


Breakthrough technology revolutionises metal recovery from mine water

May 10 2023

Mining operations often leave behind a legacy of environmental challenges, particularly in relation to water resources. To address this issue and extract valuable materials from mine waters, Finnish technology providers Weeefiner and Sensmet have joined forces. Supported by funding from Rio Tinto Group's sustainable water treatment challenge program, the companies aim to develop an innovative solution that selectively recovers metals from mining-impacted waters.

Traditional water treatment methods employed at mining sites can be expensive and vary in their efficiency. Weeefiner and Sensmet are developing an Intelligent Recovery Unit (IRU) that promises not only to enhance process efficiency but also to selectively recover critical minerals and rare earth metals. Weeefiner will provide the metal recovery and water treatment solution, while Sensmet will offer online measurement technology for continuous process control.

Weeefiner, recognising the benefits of a circular economy, has focused on innovative water treatment solutions that facilitate the recovery of dissolved materials. Their 4D Scavenger® technology has the potential to revolutionise water treatment across various industries. In the IRU project, Weeefiner aims to customise this technology to meet the specific needs of the mining industry.

Mikko Hänninen, CEO of Weeefiner, highlights the limitations of conventional decontamination methods, which often rely on precipitation and chemical additives, leading to a heavy carbon footprint and the generation of sludge requiring disposal. Weeefiner's 4D Scavenger technology, on the other hand, selectively targets and extracts dissolved metals, reducing the burden of downstream water treatment. By utilising the IRU, mining sites can produce sustainable raw materials while meeting regulatory requirements.

To optimise the IRU's performance, continuous monitoring and control are essential. Traditional laboratory analysis is impractical at remote sites due to cost and delays. Sensmet's µDOES® analyser fills this gap by providing real-time, simultaneous quantification of dissolved metal concentrations, enabling automated process optimization. With performance comparable to laboratory ICP-OES but designed for continuous and fully automated industrial monitoring, µDOES® enhances the IRU by measuring metal concentrations before and after 4D Scavenger® treatment.

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