Drillers across the globe that are looking for a better way to use less water in exploration drilling programmes can now look to IMDEX, which has introduced solids removal units that can reduce consumption by 80%.
The Perth, Australia-based company said it has designed its SRUs to demand less from dams, underground aquifers, rivers and other water sources, and they can also reduce water transport to drilling sites.
The International Council on Mining Metals (ICMM) has said investors, regulators and communities are seeking greater insights into mining companies' water management practices and risk exposure.
Additionally, according to Chris Havenga, SRUs global product manager for IMDEX, there is a rise in interest from North America, South America and Europe, which is working to meet strict environmental outlines.
Many are pointing to environmental benefits.
“A hole to be drilled to 500 m would require a ground sump with a capacity of 22,500 litres, but this would be reduced to 5000 litres by using an SRU, a water savings of 77%,” Havenga said.
Other benefits include a 75% reduction in drilling fluid consumption, water cartage, disposal costs reduced by up to 75%, and as much as $10,000 in savings on digging and remediating sumps.
“With minerals being deeper and underground, deeper holes need to be drilled so holes of 1000 m or more are no longer uncommon,” he noted. “Using the traditional sump method alone means increasing the number of sumps and the footprint of the drilling operation. The centrifuge in our SRUs means we speed up settling speeds and contractors can drill the same hole with less fluid and less solids retained in the fluids.”