Mine dewatering is the process of eradicating underground water from mines. When a mine extends beneath the water table, underground water is sure to permeate the mine due to gravity. For some developments, groundwater is a secondary issue easy to handle on an impromptu basis. The need for dewatering may be critical in other projects and mines and may need the support of plenty of supplies and supervision.

The practice of extracting water from a mine goes back to the Neolithic periods. In the past, miners dug deeper ditches so that gravity would eliminate the water by fitting leather made buckets on water wheels. Presently, dewatering practices and techniques for open pits and underground mines are so advanced and well-defined that mines that are thousands of meters under can be effectively dewatered.

Dewatering: Is It a Vital Part of Mining?

The answer to this question – of course! Natural resource demand always shifts as international economic conditions change. As countries grow and cities develop, they will need larger amounts of mined products such as copper, iron, and gold minerals to meet needs from construction, manufacturing, and consumer commodities.

Dewatering is a crucial process for ensuring efficiency and effectiveness when mining. Each mine site relies on water for survival; everything would cease to function without it. Nevertheless, every location deals with a unique issue with water – either inadequate or surplus, which can cause problems. Regardless of the challenge, miners need a thorough, dependable, and adaptable dewatering plan. Looking at different mining sites, Florida dewatering companies stand out for their top-notch services.

Every mine site must deal with dewatering at some point in time. It is an essential process for removing water from a location. Geographic location and climate influence dewatering operations in a major way. The mining industry can operate successfully and reduce future risks with a proper dewatering system. Here are the various ways dewatering is essential in the mining industry.

1. To be Safe from Mine Flooding

Whether open-pit or underground mining, mine flooding is a serious concern. Flooding can occur in most mine operations, but some are more susceptible than others. The groundwater will infiltrate mine workings when a mine is below the water table. Heavy rainfall, high water tables, nearby rivers and lakes can cause catastrophic flooding, causing costly shutdowns. Reducing the water table or pumping it out back-to-back is the only way to curtail water.

Following heavy rains, flash flooding can submerge underground and aboveground mining operations. Floodwater can cause cave-ins, mine collapses, and loss of life and heavy machinery.

2. To Remove Standing Water

The dewatering process can involve removing standing water from low points in the mine. Due to groundwater, runoff, and seepage from nearby bodies of water, a mine can encounter several difficulties that will hamper its operations.

Modern dewatering is more advanced and effective, using different types of pumps to remove water and transport it to a containment area. Dewatering is possible even in underground mines thousands of feet below the surface.

3. To Release Water Off-Site

Transportation of water from one location to another is only the beginning of the dewatering process. There may be times when water at a mine site is too much, and some may get released off-site. Standard federal, state, and local requirements must be met to release water from a mine site, even if the water was never used in the process. For this reason, dewatering methods are typically used to meet the requirements for low solids.

In this case, some tried and tested dewatering methods are settling ponds, Thickeners/Clarifiers, and Filter Presses.

4. To Retain Water for Reuse

Too little water is the opposite of too much water. While much of the same dewatering equipment/methods listed above are used (settling ponds, filter presses, and thickeners/clarifiers), the primary goal is to retain as much water from the tailings in a quick and inexpensive way.

It is usually more cost-effective to keep water in the system once it is there. Wells and other water sources can be a financial drain, so dewatering the waste stream for water recovery and reuse can be beneficial.

5. To Feed Equipment for Optimum Operation

Besides the water concerns in the tailings, there can be significant dewatering requirements during the process itself. During complex processes, the proportion of water can vary in a significant way from stage to stage. Each piece of equipment used in a wet process has a range of water that allows it to function at its best.

The Attrition Cell works best in a solids concentration of plus 65%. Pumps operating below 35% solids are not permitted to feed the Attrition Cell in order to minimize wear and tear on the components.

Mining companies should contemplate dewatering techniques when they add water and consider at each stage of the process. As with any process, stability and balance are crucial factors in optimizing efficiency and production.

6. To Reduce Hauling Costs and Draining Time

Bringing down hauling costs is another reason dewatering is important in the mining industry. For the most part, the final product is water-free, or water has been significantly removed to make transportation easier and cheaper. Transporting water is expensive and could lead to spillages, which is detrimental to the environment.

Depending on the treatment of the product different types of dewatering equipment are necessary. When the product is sitting around for some time, a Separator™ and a drainage field, and a Separator will do the job satisfactorily. To convey a product, a Dewatering Screen or a Fine Material Screw Washer will reduce the moisture content necessary to avoid housekeeping issues a Separator™ will allow.

A variety of filter equipment (such as filter tables, filter belts, and filter presses) are normally used to remove more water, depending on the gradation of the material.

Mine Dewatering Techniques

Mines use ongoing systems of boreholes and pump stations to prevent water from entering. Flooding results in extra costs beyond impairing the machinery. Rain has the potential to cause disaster on a mine site, so ensuring proper drainage is essential.

Most mining operations use diesel-powered, self-priming pumps to dewater rainfall. In addition, placing these pumps at multiple levels, help raise debris and water from the bottom of the pit.

For handling abrasive solids and rainwater sucked into the pumps, dewatering mine pumps and parts are made of rugged materials.

Some commonly used equipment and techniques for mine dewatering are mentioned below:

  • Diesel driven dri-prime dewatering pumps
  • Vertical turbine pumps
  • Electric driven dri-prime pumps
  • Submersible pumps
  • Submersible slurry pumps
  • Wireless pump controls
  • Hydraulic submersible pump

Final Word

Dewatering is an important concept in every mining application with respect to water, regardless of why it is used and in what field. Knowing what equipment is essential and where to use it can make a difference in how long a site continues to stay in operation.

Every stage of the operation needs a well-balanced strategy for it to be successful. The purpose of dewatering isn’t just to remove water from mining sites but to utilize it in an economical and efficient manner. A well-designed program underpins the entire dewatering process, from planning and assessing to safety and monitoring pumps. Therefore, mine dewatering is an essential component of any operation, regardless of location or climate.