Clean TeQ gets into tailings management business with ATA acquisition

Tailings pond at Teck Resources’ Antamina copper-zinc mine in Peru. (Image courtesy of Paulo Tomaz |Flickr Commons.)

Diversified water technology company Clean TeQ Water (ASX: CNQ) is expanding into the tailings management industry by acquiring a proprietary technology from US-based Soane Labs LLC.

The $1.9 million deal (A$3m) hands the Australian company what it believes to be an economically efficient and environmentally sound tailings rehabilitation technology, knows as Activator Tether Anchor (ATA).

The move, Clean TeQ said, responds to the mining industry’s urgent need to change both the economics and environmental sustainability of global mine tailings management.

The company noted that ATA delivers rapid separation of water and solids from both in-process and in situ tailings. It also produces stackable dry tailings without the high capital and operating cost of mechanical compression commonly used in the market.  In underground mining operations, the compact material may also be used for backfilling, with or without cement. 

The technology can be applied to recycling of process water for reuse in operations, including the potential to recover dissolved metals otherwise lost to waste, Clean TeQ said.

“We have been working with the ATA technology for over 12 months and are satisfied that it has the potential to change the way mine tailings are processed for mine rehabilitation,” Clean TeQ CEO Peter Voigt said in the statement.

Clean TeQ says there is an “enormous market opportunity” for mine waste dewatering, particularly for operations in tropical climates where natural evaporation rates are low, or where seismic activity increases geotechnical risks. 

The company said it intended to deploy ATA in conjunction with its proprietary metal extraction technologies, Clean-iX, as part of a strategy to provide the mining industry with a holistic mine tailings rehabilitation solution.

The firm is planning pilot-scale testing at several sites in the coming months, leading to full-scale commercial implementation. 

Top miners, including BHP and Rio Tinto, have strategic plans in place to find partners with whom develop technology that significantly increases water recovery from mine tailings. At the same time, they want to reduce potential safety risks and environmental footprints associated with tailings storage facilities.