Vale is the largest iron ore producer in the world. The mining company originated in Brazil and now operates in 30 countries worldwide. The mining industry uses tailings dams to store byproducts of mining operations after separating the ore from the gangue. Tailings dams provide optimal conditions for algae to bloom with their stagnant and nutrient-rich water, causing issues in mining operations, filter clogging, and foul odours.
The project is a collaboration between the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), Vale, and Water Alliance member LG Sonic. The RVO partially funded the project through its Demonstration, Feasibility and Investment (DFI) programme, which facilitates Dutch companies to launch their innovative technologies and products abroad.
Action against blooms
The Barragem Sul, a tailings dam operated by Vale in Brazil, had severe algal blooms that caused foul odours and aesthetic issues, leading to water quality complaints by nearby residents. To reduce and control the frequency of these algal blooms, Vale deployed three MPC-Buoy units in the dam on the 8th of May 2021. These three bouys served different functions: one MPC-Buoy Pro comprised ultrasonic treatment and monitoring capacity for various illogical water quality parameters, and two MPC-Buoy Lite equipped with treatment capacity.
According to the remote sensing and MPC-View data, the installation of the MPC-Buoys has successfully controlled algae concentrations. The graphics below show steady chlorophyll and phycocyanin concentrations at 0-3ug/l. Turbidity has ranged between 1.39-17.62, with a mean of 3.7. pH has a mean of 7.33, and the water temperature
Chemicals won’t be a sustainable solution for the mining industry as they will risk environmental compliance. At LG Sonic, we developed an innovative, environmentally friendly solution to algal growth that can be deployed to improve water use in
mines. LG Sonic’s ultrasound technology only targets algae growth, leaving other aquatic life unharmed and preventing algal toxins from being released. The system can prevent algal blooms by using real-time water quality monitoring, allowing for business as usual while conserving water and saving time and money. This technology is one of the many steps that can take us toward a future where mining provides us with vital minerals without straining water supplies or putting pressure on local ecosystems.
Source: LG Sonic