Óscar López
General Manager for Latin America
BQE Water
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View from the Top

Improving and Innovating Water Treatment Technologies

By Lorenzo Núñez | Thu, 04/22/2021 - 14:10

Q: What factors are contributing to the company’s strong performance and what role is Mexico playing in BQE’s success?

A: We have been participating in the mining market since 2001, providing water treatment and management solutions. Our motivation from the beginning was to add value for our clients by providing a water treatment service that went beyond the required compliance with environmental regulations. We also wanted to do more than simply remove impurities from the water. Wastewater has value. It can contain dissolved valuable elements that can be selectively recovered. If a mining company could recover those elements, it could contribute to lowering the cost of the water treatment itself, life cycle costs is very important so any management that can be done in this regard, must be done. Instead of focusing on macro water solutions, our company focuses on selective water treatments and specific metal removal that ultimately allow these recovered elements to contribute to reduce the water treatment costs on mining industry. With these treatments is possible reduce or even eliminate production of solids waste. We transform water management from an operational cost to a source of income.

The most important factor that has allowed us to grow as a company is technology innovation and Mexico has been a key market to us on this regard. BQE have participated on different projects mainly on Mexican gold mining, optimizing cyanide consumption and recovering saleable metals that complex with cyanide (SART process). BQE at this moment is leading SART process around the world.

 

Q: What added value does BQE offer?

A: Mines need to comply with water regulations. The common solution offered in the market is lime neutralization, which uses a lime treatment to neutralize acidity in the water. You throw it in and that is the end of it. But when analyzing the elements in the water itself, you realize that there are materials that you can extract and sell. Our solutions not only solve the problem of water treatment but extract valuable elements as well. Our focus is on selective treatment rather that non selective, BQE provides a global water management within metallurgical complex, evaluating streams interactions and providing tailored solutions.    

 

Q: What challenges has BQE faced during the pandemic in Mexico?

A: An example would be a project in Mexico, where we have had to change the way we support our client due the restrictions resulting from the pandemic. Providing support remotely is different from having someone physically on-site. Even when it is possible to provide assistance remotely it is much better to be at site working together with our customers.

 

Q: What have been some other challenges the company has faced in the mining industry?

A: We are a small group of specialists. Because Mexico is a relatively large country, challenges arise when we need to reach certain clients. But perhaps one of the biggest challenges in the industry, especially for innovative companies like ours, is that some companies find it difficult to abandon old technologies. Companies are often hesitant to make investments in something that might not generate an immediate return. Latin American countries have a hard time innovating. We have had situations where companies will not invest in new technologies if they are the first to try it. Our answer to those clients is, why not be the first? It is a barrier that we are still working to overcome.

 

Q: How does BQE Water monitor the wastewater of its clients?

A: Follow-up and process monitoring through sampling plans and remote and onsite support, thus improve process according to design. We design and install the water treatment plant and supervise the process. Engineering companies work with us, handling disciplines such as civil, mechanical and electrical engineering related to the process. We supervise the whole project to be sure that the plant meets all requirement to be a successful project. Once installed, we train the staff, commissioning and start up the plant, and operate or long-term assistance to guarantee the plant performance.

 

Q: BQE Water works in jurisdictions with different regulatory frameworks. How does the company adapt to each different situation?

A: There have been many changes to environmental regulations over the years. Seventy years ago, mining was not worried about the environment. Over time, the regulations have become more stringent. BQE is at the forefront, developing technologies that can be applied to comply with environmental regulations no matter how stringent they may be. A good example is our technology to reduce the concentration of selenium (Selen-IX) to values less than 1 ppb, a unique technology that has been implemented at an industrial level in Canada. At BQE, we apply our technologies and deeply knowledge on water management to different countries and their specific regulations. The goal is to help our customers to develop tailored processes to meet all environmental objectives, keeping life cycle costs.

 

BQE Water is a water treatment company specializing in providing innovative wastewater treatment solutions to the global mining industry.

Lorenzo Núñez Lorenzo Núñez Junior Journalist & Industry Analyst