Copper miners challenged by water supply – by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud (Mining.com – January 18, 2018)

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Wood Mackenzie sees copper demand increasing significatively over global supply in the next decade and, together with it, miners’ need for reliable sources of water.

“As constant and high demand for copper leads to resources running out, copper grades will progressively diminish. As a result, water demand will increase because it will be necessary to process more material to obtain the same amount of copper,” the consultancy group wrote in a report made public this week.

Aware of this, some miners with projects in Chile are already taking steps to guarantee the continuity of their operations. In the document titled The awakening of a dormant challenge: water management in the copper-mining industry, Wood Mackenzie says that companies in the world’s top copper producer are starting to minimise their use of underground and surface water, and are gradually increasing their use of seawater and recirculated water.

Rivers, lakes, wetlands, and wells still provide 78 per cent of the water consumed by the mining industry, while seawater and recirculated water account for 15 per cent.

However, according to the consultancy, the latter have seen considerable usage increases in recent years, with seawater usage growing by 250 per cent and recirculated water usage rising by 125 per cent.

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