Jack Caldwell - Mining Engineer - Robertson GeoConsultants

Walked around the exhibit hall at the Denver SME convention. Chatted to old friends and met new people–and learnt of new products.

Suddenly my mind was cast back to my days as a kid on the East Geduld Mine in South Africa where we grew up. The area was arid; there were no natural water bodies within two-hundred miles. One of our favorite places was the mine’s evaporation ponds. On our rickety bicycles we would break through the flimsy security gate and spend hours around the ponds. They were magic: a wonderland of color and water. Better than those fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

The ponds were equipped with water sprays that shot thousands of jets of water into the dry air. The mist would drift from the sprays to the areas where we played. It was an amazing sensation to feel the moisture-laden air cool us. Plus the beauty of water forever rising into the air was a sight that still stays with me, even when contemplating the Rockies and other geologic wonders.

The booth at the SME that caught my attention today was that of Evaporative Solutions. For there were pictures of water spraying into the air from many a mine pond. But what robust, beefy sprays.

I stopped and chatted to Nic Horgan, SMI Sales and Support. Contact him at nic@snomakers.com if you seek validation of this story or more information about his products. Quickly, the legal disclaimer: I asked his permission to blog about Evaporative Solutions, but I receive no remuneration or consideration for this posting.

Nic told me that the Evaporation Solutions have been around for seventeen years and are at many mines worldwide. To my discredit, I had not heard of them before.

Nic told me that a Newmont engineer contacted the company which in the early years made, and still makes, snowmakers, and asked if the snowmaker approach could be used to increase evaporation from mine ponds. Apparently the Newmont engineer worked with the company to develop the equipment that is today their mainstay.

The key to their equipment is to vaporize the water and spray it high into the air. This increases evaporation efficiency. Here is how they describe the big cannon, formally named the Super PoleCat.

The high air velocity from our unique fan and barrel design combines with optimized water droplets to accelerate evaporation.

We wondered if a set of these units would have enabled Mt Polley to get rid of excess water without discharging it? As they sought to do in the face of oppositions—and as they did in the breach.

So I told him to go to all BC mines and help them get rid of excess tailings pond waters. I hope he succeeds. And we have no more tailings ponds lapping against the perimeter embankment.