Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

Open-File Report 2012–1089

Estimated Water Requirements for the Conventional Flotation of Copper Ores

By Donald I. Bleiwas

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (641 KB)


This report provides a perspective on the amount of water used by a conventional copper flotation plant…. Water is required for many activities at a mine-mill site, including ore production and beneficiation, dust and fire suppression, drinking and sanitation, and minesite reclamation. The water required to operate a flotation plant may outweigh all of the other uses of water at a mine site, [however,] and the need to maintain a water balance is critical for the plant to operate efficiently. Process water may be irretrievably lost or not immediately available for reuse in the beneficiation plant because it has been used in the production of backfill slurry from tailings to provide underground mine support; because it has been entrapped in the tailings stored in the TSF, evaporated from the TSF, or leaked from pipes and (or) the TSF; and because it has been retained as moisture in the concentrate. Water retained in the interstices of the tailings and the evaporation of water from the surface of the TSF are the two most significant contributors to water loss at a conventional flotation circuit facility.

Posted May 3, 2012

For additional information contact:
Donald Bleiwas
U.S. Geological Survey
P.O. Box 25046, Mail Stop 750
Denver Federal Center
Lakewood, CO 80225–0046
Telephone: (303) 236-5200

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Bleiwas, D.I., 2012, Estimated water requirements for the conventional flotation of copper ores: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012–1089, 13 p., available only at



General Description of Ore Processing in a Conventional Copper Flotation Plant

Estimated Requirements for Process Water

Makeup Water Requirement for Conventional Copper Flotation

The Tailings Storage Facility

Entrainment of Water in the Tailings Storage Facility

Evaporation of Water From the Tailings Storage Facility

Seepage From the Tailings Storage Facility

Water Contained in the Final Copper Concentrate

Model of a Water Balance for a Conventional Flotation Copper Circuit Facility


References Cited

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: GS Pubs Web Contact
Page Last Modified: Saturday, 12-Jan-2013 15:14:07 EST