BQE Water Inc says it has entered into a contract with Codelco to demonstrate its Sulf-IX™ technology for sulphate removal and BioSulphide® process for copper recovery at multiple sites in Chile.
Under the contract, BQE Water will design, supply and operate pilot plants for sulphate removal and copper recovery at Codelco’s existing operations in Chile over the next 18 months.
Karin Schulz, Project Manager of the Innovation team at Codelco, said: “An important factor in the open innovation model that Codelco is promoting consists of searching and testing technologies from the ecosystem that allows us to face and solve our challenges together with those actors who have the experience, knowledge and necessary technologies. This is how the tests of the proposed BQE Water technologies are part of a pilot-level technological evaluation in-situ that during 2022 we will carry out in our divisions. In the case of obtaining positive results, they will make available new technologies for water treatment for the future of our operations.”
David Kratochvil, President & CEO of BQE Water, added: “We are honoured to be selected by Codelco, one of the world’s top metal producers, to help solve difficult water treatment issues and are excited for the opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of our Sulf-IX and BioSulphide technologies at their sites in Chile.”
Sulphates are a form of salt produced from a wide range of industrial activities, including mining. At high concentrations, sulphates can impart taste and odour in drinking water and cause digestive disorders in humans. It is also harmful to aquatic life and negatively impacts crop yields and domesticated mammal reproduction. This has led to increased environmental regulation for dissolved sulphates globally.
Developed by BQE Water in the late 2000s and subsequently successfully demonstrated on an industrial scale at an active mine in the US in the mid 2010s, the Sulf-IX process removes sulphate from mine water while generating a high purity solid gypsum by-product for potential re-use, BQE Water said. The process achieves water recoveries greater than 98% and does not generate any liquid brine waste.
“At copper mines with long operating histories, it is not uncommon to see economically significant quantities of copper present in mine wastewater,” the company said. “BQE Water’s BioSulphide and ChemSulphide® processes enable selective and cost-effective recovery of copper in the form of high-grade copper sulphide concentrates that are blended sinto metal concentrates produced by the mines.”
Since commercialising these technologies in the mid 2000s, BQE Water says it has successfully implemented half a dozen large-scale metal recovery plants treating mine wastewater at sites around the world.