The Water Rush: Chesapeake Gold to use desalinated process water at Metates
Chesapeake Gold Corp. (TSXV: CKG | OTCQX: CHPGF) reported earlier today that it has identified seawater desalination to reduce cost of process water supply for its Metates project located in Durango Mexico (click here). This effort is a direct result to a 100% consumptive water tax hike by the Mexican National Water Agency.
The Metates project requires 20,000,000 cubic meters of process water annually. As such the new taxation regime has a significant impact on project costs. However a recent decrease in natural gas electricity combined with recent advantages in desalinization technology led the Metates project toward recycling 60% of their water.
Water conservation is becoming a global preoccupation with significant impact on the mining sector.
In Chile, lawmakers are considering a bill to compel mining companies to operate all of their mines on desalinated water from the Pacific, which may influence global market prices for many valuable commodities.
But Chesapeake’s risk of technological failure from desalination at the Metates project is nearly non-existent as seawater desalination is commonly used in mining operations. Since 2011, companies around the world have spent more than $84 billion on the task. The mining industry alone, reports Global Water Intelligence, is expected to spend more than $12 billion on water.
Mining companies like Chesapeake are increasingly concerned with finding means to improve the way they conserve, manage or obtain water. The Metates project is fortunate enough to find it boundaries within favourable mining jurisdiction, situated near excellent regional infrastructure and powered through low cost natural gas power to provide cost efficient power support desalination through reverse osmosis.
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The earth contains about 1.4 trillion cubic kilometer of water, which covers approximately 70% of the planet surface area. Of this, salt water makes up 97.5% of the total water volume. The remaining 2.5% is fresh water with 80% of this amount frozen into the icecaps or combined as soil moisture. Both forms are not easily accessible for human use. The remaining quantity, about 0.5%, supports all life on Earth.
Unfortunately this tiny bit of precious freshwater is now increasingly at risk of contamination due to human consumption and anthropogenic activity. The combined effects of the continuous increase in the world population, changes in lifestyle, and the limited natural resources of fresh water, make industrial desalination of seawater a major contender for providing sustainable fresh water sources, even in arid zones and drought periods.
Atmospheric precipitation is the natural tool of freshwater distribution. However, variation in precipitation regimes as for example the contemporary California drought is putting significant pressures on governments to conserve water and we should expect mine operators to be under increasing pressure to find creative ways to procure and conserve water.
Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>