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Use of discharged brine from reverse osmosis plant in heap leaching: Opportunity for caliche mining industry
KTH, School of Chemical Science and Engineering (CHE), Chemical Engineering and Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8241-2225
2015 (English)In: Hydrometallurgy, ISSN 0304-386X, Vol. 155, 61-68 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Caliche is a highly water-soluble mineral that is exploited in northern Chile for its valuable content of iodine and nitrate, which are used in technological, medical, agriculture, dietary, and industrial applications. The processing of this mineral is through vat or heap leaching, where the species are dissolved using mainly fresh water and intermediate solutions. Since the deposits are located in zones with scarce water availability, one of the challenges for this industry is the search for new sustainable sources of water to face the process requirements. The use of groundwater sources by the mining industry has affected the domestic water supply for the nearest populations, increasing the need for new water alternatives as desalination of seawater by reverse osmosis (RO). A disadvantage of this method is the generation and discharge of highly concentrated brines to sea. In this work, the feasibility to use RO brine for caliche leaching was empirically proved through column-leaching experiments, which showed high recoveries of iodine and nitrate. Therefore, the use of RO brines may be an interesting option, on one side, for covering the increasing demand of processing water and, on the other side, to diminish the negative impact of brine disposal to the sea.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 155, 61-68 p.
Keyword [en]
Brine, Caliche, Leaching, Reverse osmosis, Seawater, Desalination, Groundwater, Iodine, Nitrates, Water supply, Column leaching experiments, Concentrated brines, Domestic water supply, Groundwater sources, Process requirements, Reverse osmosis plants, Water availability, Brines
National Category
Metallurgy and Metallic Materials
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-167733DOI: 10.1016/j.hydromet.2015.04.008ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84928136163OAI: diva2:815661

QC 20150601

Available from: 2015-06-01 Created: 2015-05-22 Last updated: 2015-06-01Bibliographically approved

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Moreno, Luis
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