Top 5 Water Management Applications You’ll Find At Work In The Quarry Industry
Water Management In Quarries, Concrete Plants & Civil Engineering Sites
Whichever aggregate a quarry’s focus is, water plays a critical part in many elements of this complex primary industry. Quarry managers know the importance of responsible water management and its impact on financial and environmental performance. Here, we take a look at the five most common needs for water management applications you will come across in the quarrying industry.
Water in quarrying and mining falls into two general categories; dealing with surplus (or unwanted) water and ‘process water’. Process Water is that which is required to perform useful tasks across the site’s processes, whereas flooding or groundwater is usually the source of waste-water that needs removing from site.
Ideally these two areas of water-management can be aligned for mutual benefit, whereby waste water is recycled for process use elsewhere on site. Read on for more about how quarry water is filtered and monitored for reuse or release to the environment.
In the typical quarry, you’ll find that water can accumulate rapidly from a number of sources. The very nature of quarrying means that topographical levels are always changing, creating collection points for both surface rainwater run-off and groundwater seepage. Generally finding its level right where your team are trying to operate machinery, this accumulated water must be efficiently pumped away to enable continued extraction work. This process is called “dewatering” and is achieved by robust dewatering-pumps, storm-water lagoons and a flexible pipe system.
Dewatering pumps are either designed to be sited above the water-level or constructed to withstand constant emersion. These Submersible Pumps are better for achieving closer to zero standing water as they can be sited at the lowest drainage point, without fear of the motor being flooded out and damaged by water ingress.
Quarry water is checked and treated for contamination before being released from the site, in the UK this is monitored and controlled by the Environment Agency. For this reason, waste water is usually diverted to settlement ponds or treatment plants on-site for re-use, or discharge under EA license.
Creating a sump allows the drainage of a wider area of your site by creating a central point for the water to accumulate. Sumps are also built into the base of many water-using installations such as aggregate washplants and wash-down stations. In concrete wash-out installations on civil engineering or ready-mix cement sites, ‘Wedge Pits’ perform a similar function.
However, the ‘levelling’ nature of fine silt or heavier sand particles mixed with the water can soon fill in a sump or wedge pit and will clog up pipes and pumps that are under-specified. Submersible mining pumps and slurry pumps are built to cope in these challenging conditions, being able to move thickened water and fluids carrying solids. Another issue you’ll find is abrasive sand particles in the mix wearing down the inside of pipework and equipment. Pumps made for mines and quarries typically have split-casings that can be opened up for easy maintenance, tough rubber lining inserts and usually contain abrasion-resistant alloys in their manufacture.
Quarry And Mining Washplants
Cleaned (Washed) gravel, pure sand and other graded aggregates are of higher value than unsorted mining material, so to maximise returns from your quarry, the extracted mineral is processed through a washplant. These use a combination of vibrating screens and high-pressure water to separate the raw excavation feedstock into sized and clean aggregates and grits (“trommel fines”). Centrifugal pumps are usually used in wash-plants due to the need for greater water-pressure capability.
See Aggregate solutions from Atlantic Pumps if you’re managing an Aggregate processing quarry.
Separation Of Solids And Liquid Via Cyclones
Quarry owners want all saleable aggregate to be collected and separated. This can be challenging when it involves a mix of soils and minerals, from pebbles to fine particles. Cyclones use water to spin-off the various minerals, with the lighter particles being drawn off from the top and leaving the heaviest grains to settle at the bottom. This process allows you to source valuable minerals and finely graded aggregates from the liquid slurry.
Any dust can be hazardous in quantity, or in repeated/prolonged exposure so it is important that this risk is reduced to a safe level. Reduced visibility can have its own negative impact on general site safety and efficiency; it’s also unpleasant for neighbours, and visitors.
In some more permeant set-ups, dust can be contained by shrouds and partitions but often more mobility and flexibility is required on open quarry sites. Spraying water onto the surface being worked helps prevent dust forming, whilst pumping water through misting nozzles is a great method of suppressing airborne dust right at the source of the problem. Get the “Dust Suppression for Quarries” via instant download if you’re needing to control dust in your quarry.
Water Abstraction And Discharge
Water for quarry use is usually sourced from either rainwater captured from site, or the local water authority. As a responsible quarry manager, you’ll want to protect your company’s reputation, the environment, and your finances. Water taken by abstraction from ground sources or water courses usually needs permission from the relevant authority; in the UK this is managed by the Environment Agency. Conserving resources through recycling is key, whether that be re-using ‘grey-water’ for quarry processes rather than bringing in fresh supplies, or cleaning and returning water discharge to keep local rivers at healthy levels. As a quarry manager or worker, you will know to take contamination risks very seriously. Keeping a record of your environmental risk assessments, waste-water management and treatment plan, and effluent data (water quality and volumes) is crucial in being able to demonstrate your compliance.
Have any questions about your quarry or site water management? Atlantic Pumps work with top quarrying businesses to solve their slurry & abrasive fluid movement, water treatment, dredging and environmental challenges. Get in contact with a pump expert today or visit our Resources section for more articles on practical abrasive fluid quarry management help.
For your specialist site water treatment, monitoring, and recording system solution see https://atlanticpumps.co.uk/collections/site-water-management