Meeting Rising Water Demand for Mining

By Tom Titus

Meeting Rising Water Demand for Mining

The mining industry is booming. Widespread electrification and the rise of renewable energy have led to increased demand for batteries, solar panels, and other products that rely on metals like lithium, cobalt, and nickel. Outside the auto and renewable energy industries, living standards are improving around the world, which leads to sustained demand for goods across a range of industries. For instance, higher standards of living coincide with increased demand for gold for consumer electronics, copper for electrical wiring, and iron to produce steel for construction materials, as well as lithium to power cell phones and laptops.

Due to these factors, by some estimates, demand for mined products could scale up tenfold within a few years. Demand for lithium alone is projected to be six times greater by 2030. Consequently, mines will need to produce significantly larger volumes of these metals and minerals to feed into the supply chain and ultimately produce goods across industries. And as mining operations pick up, the amount of water needed for storage, transport, and disposal at mining sites will increase as well.

Water plays a pivotal role for mining

Water is an integral part of mining operations due to its low cost and its ability to transport materials in an energy-efficient manner. This has made it incredibly valuable for transporting ore and waste in slurries and suspension, separating minerals, and dewatering mines. In dewatering, water is removed from mines, most of which extend below the water table, by using a pump during and after the mine’s operation. This water must then be transported to tanks and stored or treated.

Water is also used as part of the waste material disposal process. Tailings, the finely-ground leftover rocks, are mixed with water and transported for disposal into tailing ponds or evaporation ponds, where water is allowed to evaporate and leave behind the solids for disposal. In addition, water that has been exposed to mining processes is often acidic and contains high levels of pollutants, debris, or toxins; this water must be treated to reduce toxicity and the volume of solids present. Mine water treatment typically occurs on-site, as mines are often located in remote areas where water infrastructure is limited. Sludge or mine water is pumped through chemically resistant pipes to the treatment facility, where it is treated before being released back into the environment.  


Heavy wall pipe stands up to harsh mining operations

The extensive use of water in mining operations requires a robust system of pipes to transport slurries and suspensions. Because the water produced in mining operations can be acidic, contain corrosive chemicals, and include rock pieces of varying sizes, a heavy wall pipe is necessary. 

Hard-Line™ is United Poly Systems’ HPDE pipe for high-pressure, highly corrosive, and heavy wall applications that include nuclear and mining sites. These pipes are rated for higher operating pressures of up to 1,600 psi and feature a thicker wall than standard pipes. It was specifically designed to be the most durable and resilient piping for water, conduit, and water line applications, and its material requirements meet or exceed ASTM Standard D3350 “Standard Specification for Polyethylene Plastic Pipe and Fittings Materials.” 

Its light weight and flexibility make Hard-Line pipe easy to transport and install. Available in sizes ranging from 1¼- to 10-in in diameter, Hard-Line pipe is guaranteed to never rust, leak, or corrode, making it a pipe option that is virtually maintenance-free. In addition to reducing costs, eliminating the need for maintenance improves logistics at remote or complex mine locations. 

Hard-Line is part of UPS’ suite of specialty pipes. The Water-Line™ product suite includes Base-Line™ for mining operations, Crystal-Line™ for potable and sewer water infrastructure, and Sewer-Line™ for sewage applications. 



About United Poly Systems

United Poly Systems produces quality HDPE pipe in diameters from ¾-in. to 26-in. IPS, 4-in. to24-in. DIPS and ¾-in. to 2-in. CTS for use in several markets, including energy, power and communications, renewables and water infrastructure. The market for HDPE pipe continues to expand as initiatives to improve, repair and expand the country’s infrastructure are implemented.

Our off-the-shelf HDPE pipe is available in a variety of sizes, colors, dimensions and lengths, with or without stripes. We also offer fully customizable HDPE conduit options. In addition, piping can be customized with a ribbed interior (to maximize the distance cable may be pulled or jetted), pull tape, or a lubricated interior (for easier installation). 

Success at UPS can be attributed to our vast experience, extensive client relationships and state-of-the-art manufacturing and quality processes. Our agile business model allows us to quickly meet customers’ needs without the overhead expenses incurred by many of the larger producers in the industry.

Conveniently located in Springfield, Missouri, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, United Poly Systems can provide quick delivery to a majority of the U.S. market.

Tags: Water, Oil & Gas, Plastic Pipe, Mining, corrosive