- This case demonstrates how Ecolab was able to improve the performance and reduce the operational costs of Cobre Las Cruces S.A.’s opencast mining complex in southwest Spain by conducting system audits, service schedules, automating monitoring, installing more efficient filtration technologies, and employee behavior change.
Cobre Las Cruces S.A. is an opencast mining complex located in southwest Spain. Via a method valued hydrometallurgy, the site produces 72,000 tons of copper per year. Water quality is very important in the copper treatment process and a vital resource to the mining industry. The need for high quality processing water and Cobre Las Cruces’ environmental commitment, the site features a complex water treatment plant operation.
The water treatment process includes direct treatment of raw water ponds, physical-chemical treatments, sand filtration, ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis. Seasonal variations of water volumes due to rainfall and water quality variability increase the complexity of operating these water treatment systems in accordance with industry and environmental standards. Ecolab partnered with Cobre Las Cruces to implement operational best practices, install best available technologies (including the 3D TRASAR), and develop monitoring and control processes.
Ecolab’s key recommendations for the Cobre Las Cruces site included:
- Conducting system audits for maintenance and operational improvements
- Develop specific cleaning protocols
- Employee training
- Behavior change regarding water pond management
- Upgrade treatment technology and chemicals to best available technologies
- Installation of sand filters and low energy membranes
- In-situ monitoring
Implementation of Ecolab’s recommendations resulted in:
- 40% reduction in water discharge and €331,000 in cost savings
- 22% reduction in energy requirements and €32,000 in cost savings
- €761,300 per year reduction in chemical and membrane purchase costs