Glencore team’s innovation drastically reduces water consumption
October 15, 2014

Glencore’s Tahmoor Coal is conserving around one million litres of fresh drinking water per day by treating and reusing waste water from the mine.
 
Glencore commissioned and completed the 2014 PACE award-winning sustainable recycled water management system after a terrible drought in 2006 where the operation was flagged in the media as one of Sydney’s biggest water users.

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Pictured: Project managers inspecting Recycyled Water Treatment Plant
 
Glencore’s Environment and Community Manager, Ian Sheppard said ‘‘the media focus coincided with the creation of internal targets by Glencore designed to improve sustainability across our operations.’’
 
The Tahmoor Environment and Community team worked hard to develop the agreed upon concept, as a more environmentally friendly alternative to an initial concept of a reverse osmosis (RO) plant to treat mine waste water, which was found to require increased energy consumption.
 
The alternative project involved building a Recycled Water Treatment Plant with a capacity of 1 Megalitre a day and two 250,000 litre concrete water tanks to supply treated water to the underground mine for operations. The team’s solution was found to be more sustainable, producing fit for purpose water, with lower capital and operating costs, significantly reduced energy requirements, and no community impacts from increased road traffic. 

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Pictured: Project managers inspecting Recycyled Water Treatment Plant
 
In NSW, our miners account for around 1.5% of the state’s water consumption compared to around 45% for agriculture. See more at landusefacts.com.au
 
And the potential to extend the benefits of this program, saving water globally, are huge. The water recycling system is being duplicated across departments and now serves as a blueprint for other mines and industrial operations looking for a similar process to utilise and reuse waste water.
 
‘‘Recycled water will now substantially offset fresh water usage for the life of the mine while operating costs are less than we were spending on water purchases,’’ Mr Sheppard said.
 
And the innovation has been recognised at the 2014 PACE Zenith Awards, where Glencore won the peak Project of the Year award as well as the Water and Wastewater Category.
 
 
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Pictured: Glencore's Nicholas Wandke, and Ian Sheppard receive the PACE Water and Wastewater Award
 
This example of a leading practice and approach to water management and sustainable development at Tahmoor Colliery - that has the potential to minimise the impacts of mining globally - is another excellent example of why our NSW Miners are World Class Miners.
 

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