STORY INLINE POST
Q: When seeking to secure water supply and adequate water treatment, why should the Mexican mining industry choose Veolia?
A: Veolia has extensive experience developing solutions for the mining sector. Goldcorp, one of our main clients in Mexico, hired us to fully manage its industrial waste, including hazardous and recyclable residues. We have a two-year contract that allowed Goldcorp to save US$4 million. The company’s expertise is to produce gold but mine operations often yield a series of byproducts that are discarded as garbage. As we have the expertise for separating and managing waste, we can add value to residues. We also work closely with Grupo México, for which we manage waste, treat water and decrease the risk of spills. We help our clients to obtain the social license to operate. Upon contingency, such as leaks, we have an industrial solutions department for environmental site assessment and remediation works that include off-site, on-site and in-situ treatment technologies.
Q: How can you help miners optimize water and waste management while reducing environmental risk of hazardous materials?
A: Water management systems are fundamental in mine operations and permits for extracting water are ever more restrictive and careful, so companies are looking to seawater as an alternative for water sourcing. Tailings dams are also important to consider as rainwater generates leachates with high mineral concentrations. These liquids need to be treated to prevent spills. Veolia offers solutions and technologies to implement for each case, not only to treat wastewater but also to recover some minerals.
Our work in Mexico has been very focused in the last couple of years on the management of hazardous industrial materials. We have a department dedicated to the industrial sector called Veolia Industrial Solutions and we have a center for industrial waste management in Nuevo Leon. Veolia acquired a company called RIMSA in 2000 that provided the foundations for this division. RIMSA has been working in Mexico since 1985.
Q: What is the role of a circular economy in improving the water and waste management sectors in Mexico?
A: Veolia is dedicated to promoting a circular economy through all its processes. I think this is the global development model to pursue, as it not only shifts from a linear economy that extracts, uses and disposes of resources, but it promotes reuse and recycling. China recently launched a regulation that prohibits import of material for recycling. As China was the biggest receptor of this material, countries now need to find other alternatives for disposing of their waste. This entails developing more infrastructure for waste management and recycling and modernizing existing facilities. So, if a material cannot be reused, at least it can be turned into energy. For example, EU countries estimate that China’s ban will represent an additional investment of €10 billion to convert its recycling facilities, so that is the challenge for local and federal governments.
Regarding the industrial sector, the circular economy demands companies have an extended responsibility approach to products. This means that after manufacturing a given product and delivering it to the supply chain or the end consumer, companies believe their responsibility ends and have no obligation regarding what happens with the product in the future. This is shifting to reincorporating products into manufacturing processes after their useful life ends. The industry must open space in its value chain to better use materials and waste. I believe that a circular economy approach should be driving the next administration's industrial agenda.