The use of water is one of the most significant issues facing the mining and metals industry.
With competition for water continuing to grow, water dependent industries are facing increasingly intense scrutiny, particularly when operating in water stressed areas.
The International Council on Mining Metals says investors, regulators and communities are seeking greater insights into mining companies' water management practices and risk exposure.
With the search for new mineral discoveries increasingly occurring at depth and undercover in remote locations, the pressure to find better ways to reduce water consumption during exploration drilling programs is vital as companies meet their environmental, social and governance obligations.
Leading global mining-tech company IMDEX is meeting the challenges with its solids removal units that can reduce water consumption by up to 80 per cent during drilling.
The savings mean less draw on water from sources including rivers, dams or underground aquifers and a reduction in water transported to the drill sites.
Adoption of the technology has increased significantly in Europe to meet strict environmental guidelines, along with North America and some South American countries.
IMDEX's Global SRU Product Manager Chris Havenga said "there had also been a dramatic increase in adoption in Africa in the past two years. Increasingly mining companies were directing drilling contractors to use SRUs because of the environmental benefits."
"As an example, a hole to be drilled to 500m would require a ground sump with a capacity of 22500 litres, but this would be reduced to 5000 litres by using an SRU, a water saving of 77 per cent."
Other benefits include a 75 per cent reduction in drilling fluid consumption, water cartage, disposal costs reduced by up to 75 per cent, and a saving of up to $10,000 on digging and remediating sumps.
“With minerals being deeper and underground, deeper holes need to be drilled so holes of 1000m or more are no longer uncommon,” Mr Havenga said.
“Using the traditional sump method alone means increasing the number of sumps and the footprint of the drilling operation.
“The centrifuge in our SRUs means we speed up settling speeds and contractors can drill the same hole with less fluid and less solids retained in the fluids.”