Through its Towards Zero Water (H2Zero) strategy Goldcorp is targeting reductions in the use of fresh water and increased water recycling rates at all of its operations.
An immediate goal, the miner said, is to reduce all forms of ‘high-calorie water' extraction, which it defines as the extraction of water not necessary due to dewatering or the inadvertent capture or precipitation by its existing facilities. Ultimately, the company will attempt to eliminate the use of high-calorie water entirely at its operations.
The strategy has already sparked some water savings at Goldcorp's sites, such as that resulting from the water recycling project commissioned at Red Lake Gold Mines in 2018, within the Campbell Complex paste backfill plant.
The project involved recycling overflow water from the paste plant thickener back into the milling process in order to reduce fresh water consumption from the neighbouring Balmer Lake.
Originally, the overflow water from the paste plant was sent directly to the waste treatment plant and ultimately discharged to the tailings pond. This year, a new 4in (102mm) pipeline was installed to redirect the overflow water to the leach thickener for sediment removal prior to being sent to the process water tank for reuse within the mill.
Based on water accounting throughout 2018, the water recycling project has reduced fresh water consumption from Balmer Lake by approximately 80% or 25,000m3/month.
Additionally, in 2018 Red Lake Gold Mines looked to further reduce fresh water consumption with a recycling project in the reagent mixing area. This project is in progress and is planned for completion in the December quarter of 2018.
"We expect H2Zero to trigger other improvements and innovation that will lead us to significantly reduce our water footprint," Goldcorp said.