The same precautions that are necessary in the oil and gas industry are equally important in the mining industry, the only difference being the chemicals involved. Regardless of the difference in substances, polyurea is an excellent material for containing mining waste and preventing the release of contaminants into the environment. There are three main applications for polyurea containment in mining operations.
Heap Leach Containment
Certain mining operations utilize heap leaching to extract minerals, namely gold and copper. This involves spaying a solution on a heap of ore, and letting the resulting liquid trickle down and drain into tanks, known as leach tanks. Polyurea can be used to coat the interior of leach tanks, thus providing not only a seamless barrier but also a longer lifespan for the tanks, which are usually made of concrete.
Solution Pond Containment
Solution ponds are to mining operations as fracking pits are to oil shale drilling operations. The solution ponds contain mining chemicals and process water used in mining operations. Just like fracking fluid, these chemicals need to be prevented from contaminating the environment, especially the water supply. Polyurea can be spray-applied to a geotextile liner, or even directly to the ground, to provide a seamless, monolithic barrier between mining solutions and the environment.
Tailings are the mud-like waste materials accumulated during a mining operation and are usually contained by dams, dikes or embankments. Because tailings are typically the source of greatest environmental liability in a mining operation, it is critical that the tailings do not seep into the surrounding areas. The critical nature on containing the tailings, do to the materials' toxic nature, translates to a major focus on lining the containment area. Polyurea is ideal for tailings containment, as it can be spray-applied to a geotextile substrate, or even to the ground itself, to forge a seamless, monolithic barrier between mining tailings and the environment.