The startup of the brine concentrator system (BCS) at the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory of Australia demonstrates Energy Resources of Australia Ltd.’s (ERA) commitment and investment towards its long-term water management strategy. The system, supplied by Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies, will treat mine process water to produce 1,830 megalitres of clean water annually (1.3 million gallons per day). The project will play an integral part in the progressive rehabilitation activities at the mine.
The system, based on HPD evaporation technology from Veolia, was delivered nearly three months earlier than scheduled through close collaboration between Veolia and ERA. An early delivery was important to ERA as their detailed water inventory modeling indicated a need for the capacity to treat large volumes of water. Despite the accelerated schedule, there were no safety incidents in the more than 700,000 man hours logged during equipment fabrication, construction, and system commissioning.
“The BCS is a critical component of ERA’s future as the successful treatment of process water is key to rehabilitating the site and ensuring our water balances are in full control,” remarked ERA Chief Executive Rob Atkinson. “Without BCS, I don’t believe ERA has a future.”
Veolia’s industrial operating group in Australia lent their assistance in the early design stages of the Brine Concentrator and was subsequently awarded an interim operations and maintenance contract by ERA for the system. Early involvement of Veolia Australia’s operations team allowed an operator’s perspective to be incorporated into the design. The Veolia operations team also provided for a smooth transition from system checkout and commissioning to full operation while allowing ERA to focus their staff in other areas of the mine.
ERA is one of the nation’s largest uranium producers and Australia’s longest continually operating uranium mine.
Uranium has been mined at Ranger for three decades. Ranger mine is one of only three mines in the world to produce in excess of 110,000 metric tons of uranium oxide. ERA’s Ranger mine is located 8 km east of Jabiru and 260 km east of Darwin.