Energy efficiency for a sea water desalination plant in Namibia


Water is a key component in the mining process. With mines often located in remote, arid areas, having readily accessible water for both process requirements and regional drinking consumption is important for successful operations. The availability and advances in desalination technology, such as high efficiency membranes and isobaric energy recovery devices, have made seawater desalination a viable solution for water supply in mining applications. Southern Africa's Namibia has abundant natural resources of diamonds, copper, uranium, silver, tungsten and lead and is the world's fifth-largest producer of uranium. It also has what is considered to be one of the driest climates in the world with erratic and sparse rainfalls. Since water is a critical factor in extraction mining processes, it makes sense that seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plants are being built to address this economic need. The 55,000 m3/day Trekkopje seawater desalination process for Areva Resources Namibia (Pty) Ltd (built by South African desalination specialist company Keyplan), and other plants around the world are being developed to supply water for mining applications. The authors present energy saving solutions for desalination water supply for mining applications and compare the energy consumption to other desalination plants. Detailed design data for the Uranium mining desalination plant are given.

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