Perhaps the best way to understand Dalradian’s project is to compare it to a hi-tech, highly regulated, precision-led quarry – only one that is based underground with some processing on the surface.
There are six stages to Dalradian’s approach. The fourth is ‘water management’.
Prioritising Water Recycling
Dalradian has proposed a sustainable approach to water management that meets stringent environmental and regulatory standards.
The underground gold-copper-silver mine will prioritise water recycling (c.90% within the processing plant) and minimise the use of fresh water. All water which comes into contact with operations will be captured, treated and monitored to meet independent, strict criteria set by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
Two major pieces of infrastructure will be built to achieve this. First, a state-of-the art water treatment plant that will treat and discharge water to a standard that preserves naturally occurring water in local streams, and secondly, four ponds to capture rainfall and water from the site / operations.
The water treatment plant will use ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis water purification technology (including a semi-permeable membrane that removes ions, molecules and large particles). Apart from iron and manganese which are present naturally at elevated levels in local waterways, the water discharged will meet drinking water standards.
One of the ponds will collect rainwater, some of which will be used in operations. The other three ponds will capture water that comes into contact with mining operations, including water from the underground mine and the Dry Stack Facility.
The ponds will be excavated fully into the ground. They are not ‘dams’ and will not use water retaining embankments or dam walls. The ‘mine contact’ ponds are designed to contain a 1-in-a-1000 year, 24-hour storm event without overtopping.
All water in these ponds which isn’t reused in operations will be treated at the water treatment plant before being discharged.
Based upon extensive modelling and independent testing of over 1,000 samples, the proposed mine is designed to operate in tandem with the local environment. Water management is integral to that approach.
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