Editorial Feature

Polymers in the Mining Industry

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Polymers in the mining industry are part of materials science or materials engineering. These subjects recognize the materials we see at all times, all around us, and relate to the creation and exploration of new products. Materials science and engineering can be the composition of your canned soup or follow the complex craftsmanship of aerospace engineering. As these materials share a desirable versatility, they continue to be put into practice as a merging factor between natural sciences and engineering.

When discovering new applications of materials, material scientists and engineers must have an exhaustive grasp of how materials work, where they can be optimally used, and the eligibility of long-term performance. Thorough knowledge of engineering materials must encapsulate how these substances will shape designated applications, as well as if they can generate newer, better ways to make everyday products more sustainable and efficient.

Polymers as a Science and Engineering Material

Polymers are chemicals made up of complex molecules and they are used in a multitude of ways, such as the processing of ceramics, fibers, and water purity. Polymers in the mining industry are no exception to the careful consideration surrounding the application of these materials - in fact, several mining companies have resorted to a dry polymer preparation system. As an applied technology, polymer methods incorporate a conveyance system that transports dry polymers before the wetting process - polymers provide a negative-pressure and blower induced process. If suitable polymers are added to water, particles in suspension are hauled by static electrical charges, mixing and combining to form bigger particles, which then disperse. Because the method disperses dry polymers before the wetting process, it enables an effective polymer-polymer moistening; ultimately establishing a lower chemical cost and less mobility in unwanted areas.

Polymer application has become more and more popular for its productive, effective, and reliable use - companies have applauded the system for mitigating maintenance in the engineering and mining sectors.

Notable benefits of polymers in the mining industry include, but are not limited to, the following: the systems typically have control panels that ensure flexibility in choosing the requirements for each mining process, reduce external costs, and have several customizable hopper configurations. Additionally, the separation of the polymer before wetting inhibits any clogging or back up in the conveyance system.

Dry polymer systems are also productively used to congeal wastewater at the mining site; they help separate ore in difficult mining jobs that have to work through hard-rock and copper-mining.

Polymers and Mine Waste

In the process of mining and transporting waste, slurries travel to a tailings storage facility (TSF). A TSF is a structure made for storing unwanted ore and water from the milling process. As these slurries travel through a pipeline to a TSF, a series of uneconomical and unsustainable issues arise.

Tailings are the waste materials left over post-mining - they essentially divide which substances are valuable and which are undesirable parts of ore. The polymer system is usually applied to these tailings streams and rapidly help dewater the slurry, reducing segregation and simultaneously increasing beach slope.

Polymers help the slurries travel smoothly while optimizing open space that would otherwise be wasted and inhabitable with spoiled, widespread substances. Polymer technology reduces the water contamination that could exist without its application; therefore in places that already carry a limited water supply, dry polymer systems are a sustainable solution to spoilage.


The wide-spread application of polymers is due to their many flexible and economically befitting features. In mining operations, their suitability is based on resistance to chemicals relative strength, non-replicate nature, and ability to be both thermal and electrical insulators.

Materials scientists and engineers manage and observe the various groups of metals, alloys, polymers, and composites. With extensive knowledge in all of these materials, there is the capacity to develop boundary-breaking technology and materials for new treatments, which can eventually improve material performance, sustainability, longevity, and efficiency.


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Sydney Luntz

Written by

Sydney Luntz

Since graduating from the University of York with a BA Hons. in English Literature and Linguistics, Sydney has spent her time interning and freelancing before attending University of Arts College London in the fall, to complete a Master's in Data Journalism. In her spare time, you can catch Sydney reading a book, at a concert, or wandering a gallery!


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