Innovative solution for sewage treatment heralds a sustainable future for mining camps.
Article as it appeared in National Resources Review
The National Resources Review talked to Ray Anderson of Australian wastewater treatment company, Aerofloat, about the environmental and financial implications of adaptable sewage and wastewater treatment plant designs in mining camps. Anderson, known for his work in developing and installing over 500 sewage treatment plants around Australia, sees the industry on the cusp of change.
Anderson highlights the opportunities that innovative wastewater treatment designs can offer the industry, advice that is more important than ever as the industry is scrutinised for more sustainable practices. He also emphasises the need for treatment designs that can be transportable, are reusable, and most importantly, can adapt to the huge fluctuations in mining camp populations.
Aerofloat, the brainchild of Anderson, and his fellow founders, Michael Anderson and Katie Moor, offers adaptable, scalable and ultimately cost-effective sewage and wastewater treatment for mining camps. The company is fast becoming a key driver in the industry having recently won a Consensus GreenTech award for innovation. Consensus Group’s GreenTech Award Judging Panel said Aerofloat’s innovative designs herald its continued success in the wastewater treatment industry.
“Aerofloat sets new industry benchmarks, providing exceptional customer and product support that adhere to standard codes and compliance,” said the Consensus Group’s representative.
Aerofloat’s technology and patented solutions have been developed over many decades. The company has applied its innovative approach to wastewater and sewage treatment solutions to the unique challenges facing the mining industry. Anderson says that the remote fly in, fly out (FIFO) accommodation requirements for mining camp workers must be able to withstand significant fluctuations in sewage flow rates and population sizes.
Adaptable sewage and wastewater treatment is vital to a healthy mining population.
“The need for safe, reliable sewage systems that can adapt to huge flow fluctuations and very high peak loads is often under-estimated in the planning stages of mining camps.
“The need for safe, reliable sewage systems that can adapt to huge flow fluctuations and very high peak loads is often under-estimated in the planning stages of mining camps. In modern FIFO accommodation, units come with individual toilet and showering facilities. Communal areas like the main site office, kitchens and laundries also need adequate sewage and wastewater treatment systems.”
Peak flow rates in mining camps are significantly different to other domestic camps, as the population tends to follow similar day patterns.
“People are waking and showering, using facilities at the same time each morning in order to start the first shift of the day. This means that 30-40 percent of the flow occurs during a one-hour period in the day, and again in the evening when that population returns,” said Anderson.
“Normal domestic sewage and wastewater treatment plants are simply not up to the job,” commented Anderson. “Mining camps require systems that are specific to the intense fluctuations in peak flows, further impacted by fast population increases.”
“Mining camp populations can number in the thousands and the potential threat this poses on the environment must be effectively managed. A sewage treatment plant design needs to keep up with these changes in population to ensure both the environment and human health are not negatively impacted,” said Anderson.
Mining camp sewage and wastewater can include bacterial diseases such as diarrhoea, shigellosis and salmonellosis, as well as viral diseases like gastroenteritis and Hepatitis A, and parasites. Poor treatment of the sewage or wastewater can lead to infection of the mining camp population.
Aerofloat’s solutions offer more sustainable operations – creating opportunities for water reuse and recycling.
“The mining industry must look to sustainable practices in water use. Wastewater reuse and recycling is key to this,” said Anderson.