BQE Water has signed two agreements with EcuaCorriente SA (ECSA), an Ecuador subsidiary of a Chinese consortium, to prepare an adaptive mine water management plan and to improve the design of an existing water treatment plant for the El Mirador mine the consortium owns and operates in south-eastern Ecuador.
The first contract is for an assessment of the water treatment plant and a water management plan that is adaptive over the life of the mine based on water flow and quality that will be monitored as part of the plan.
Added to this is a second contract to provide technical support for implementing immediate improvements in the engineering design and operation of the existing water treatment facility to increase its robustness and reduce both project risks and long-term operating costs, BQE said.
Qiaofeng Xu, the Project Director for ECSA, said: “We selected BQE Water for their unique technical expertise, their successful track record in the design and operation of large water treatment plants for major Chinese mining producers, and for their ability to support project execution utilising personnel from their South American, China and Canadian offices.”
Songlin Ye, Vice President for Asia at BQE Water, said: “Our ability to do business with large Chinese metal producers and the success of our water treatment operations in China were instrumental in securing these new contracts. The El Mirador project is significant for BQE Water as it showcases our unique strength to be a trusted water services provider for mining projects with Chinese interests at a time when Chinese investment in global mining projects can be expected to grow.”
Oscar Lopez, General Manager for Latin America at BQE Water, said the El Mirador project represents the first large mining project where the company will be the technical lead for the overall site water management plan rather than focus only on water treatment.
“And, with the long time horizon for water treatment at El Mirador, the current contracts may provide an opportunity for further cooperation between our two companies to support EcuaCorriente to reduce life cycle costs and conduct mining operations in an environmentally friendly manner at El Mirador,” Lopez said.
The El Mirador mine, owned by a consortium consisting of China Railway Construction Corporation and Tonglin Nonferrous Metals Group, is a large copper-gold porphyry project that was brought into production in 2019. It is expected to produce an average over 200 MIb (90,718 t) of copper and 60,000 oz of gold annually for the next 30 years.
The project site is located in a net positive water balance environment and will require ECSA to treat and discharge mine water into the environment throughout the project life, BQE said. “As production ramps-up and the mine footprint increases, both the volume of water requiring treatment and the water composition will change.”