Water treatment plants of Wismut GmbH
Waters are primarily
Groundwater that rises during mine flooding or that overflows at the surface when mine flooding is completed
Water contained in uranium mill tailings ponds
Pond and pore waters
Surface water infiltrated into waste rock piles and seeping from the toe of the dump
Contaminated water typically contains uranium, radium, arsenic, iron, and a series of other heavy metals. Depending on feed water quality and volume as well as on targets to be met, contaminant removal imposes different treatment methods. The range of methods in use includes ion exchange as well as precipitation techniques, and passive treatment technologies.
Two basic treatment technologies in use at Wismut GmbH are
1. Precipitation techniquesFollowing the addition of specific chemicals, contaminants are precipitated as very slightly soluble compounds.
2. Ion exchangeRemoval of water contaminants uses ion exchange resins. Contaminants are removed from the resin to where they are attached, and the resin is regenerated for multiple reuse. Wismut uses this technology at the Aue and Königstein sites to separate uranium from flood water.
Wismut GmbH currently operates six water treatment plants which remove relevant contaminants by chemical/physical processes.
Water treatment will continue to be a requirement for many years to come.