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BHP, Rio Tinto To Collaborate On Tailings Technology

BHP (BHP.AX,BLT.L,BBL,BHP) and Rio Tinto (RTPPF.PK,RIO.L,RIO,RTNTF.PK) have collaborated to accelerate the development of technology that could significantly increase water recovery from mine tailings, and in turn reduce potential safety risks and environmental footprints associated with tailings storage facilities, the companies said in a statement.

According to the companies, the first project will involve testing the application of an innovative large-volume filter unit at a BHP copper mine in Chile, which would remove up to 80% of the water in the tailings stream before it is deposited in a storage facility.

The companies noted that they will work in collaboration with leading technology and equipment providers, technical experts, research groups and the academic sector.

Manufacture of the filter unit is already underway. The pilot construction is due to begin in early 2023 and operations are scheduled to commence in early 2024. The pilot will test the potential of a large-scale tailings filter unit for scalability and cost-effectiveness across global mining operations.

Removing more water from tailings would reduce potential risks associated with moisture in storage facilities, reduce the footprint required by such facilities, and create opportunities to productively re-use tailings.

The companies stated that the additional water recovered from tailings by filtration could be re-used in processing facilities, reducing overall water consumption.

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