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With so many uses for geomembranes in the mining industry, during both active and closed stages of a project, it’s no wonder they’re so widely used. However, not all geomembrane products will work for mining applications. Using the wrong material for a hydraulic fracturing brine pond or a heap leaching pad will only result in failures and costly losses

With 20 years of geosynthetic industry experience, we are glad to help you choose the right mining geomembranes for customers. This article will help you to choose the right mining geomembranes.

There are many materials for mining geomembranes, for example, HDPE mining geomembranes, LLDPE mining geomembranes, PVC mining geomembranes, RPE mining geomembranes, XR mining geomembranes, EPDM mining geomembranes, and so on.

The common raw material of geomembrane

1. High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Geomembrane

 This durable material is widely available, but it’s far more prone to cracking under stress than other types of polyethylene. It offers decent chemical resistance and less UV resistance than RPE. Welds are reasonably strong for reliable seams. Unfortunately, this is balanced out by poor puncture resistance and extensive thermal expansion in applications with hot wastewater. This material isn’t a great choice for use on its own in a mining project.

2. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) Geomembrane

More flexible than HDPE liners, PVC isn’t very durable and lacks the chemical resistance necessary for mining use. The material resists wrinkling relatively well due to its flexibility, but it’s less durable and offers poor tear resistance in rocky soils. It’s also not entirely UV resistant in most formulations and will break down eventually when installed in an exposed setting. High and low temperatures also damage PVC liners, both of which are possible on the mining site. Skip this material for process and storage ponds.

3. Liner Low-Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) Geomembrane

LLDPE geomembrane is manufactured from virgin polyethylene resins, offering great flexibility and outstanding resistance to low temperature and ultraviolet exposure. High-quality and economical, it is intended for long life and exhibits a high degree of strength and durability.

4. Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) Geomembrane

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE). For the combination of chemical resistance and flexibility, LDPE is a relatively good choice. Yet it still has some disadvantages that keep it from being the ideal choice for most mining projects.

First, this material is even less UV resistant than HDPE geomembrane. It’s also less chemical resistant. While the softer material is less likely to wrinkle than stiffer membranes, especially when reinforced, it’s not as durable as you need for mining purposes. Rough ores and sediments will quickly wear out a liner made of LDPE alone. LDPE is not an ideal liner when used alone, but it may work well in combination with other geomembranes.

5. Reinforced polyethylene (RPE) Geomembrane

RPE mining geomembranes are reinforced polyethylene fabric with an HDPE or LDPE coating. RPE mining geomembrane liners are extremely durable if you are making a temporary retaining pond.

RPE mining geomembranes offer the highest grade of both chemical and UV resistance due to the combination of both HDPE and LDPE in a single product. The reinforced design provides strength, wrinkle resistance, conformation to unusual curves, and tear resistance all at once. 

6. Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) Geomembrane

EPDM mining geomembrane liner is an unreinforced, highly flexible material that is also durable. It feels like rubber, this UV-stable product has excellent tensile strength, is highly resistant to punctures, and weathering. EPDM mining geomembrane liners are an excellent choice for exposed applications or as water barriers within earthed dams. Its easy installation also makes it a favorite for backyard landscapers. 

7. XR Reinforced Geomembranes

XR reinforced mining geomembrane liners are high-performance geomembranes. They consist of an ethylene interpolymer alloy reinforced woven synthetic fabric, and they are the strongest, most durable geomembranes available. XR-reinforced geomembranes are specifically engineered to perform in a wide range of climates and resist broad chemical classes, including acids, oils, and methane. They exhibit impressive dimensional stability, tensile strength, and puncture resistance.

We recommend using the XR-reinforced geomembrane for the mining industry.  These liners offer a better lay-flat experience, reducing the number of wrinkles formed during installation. Wrinkles that aren’t removed, slowly compress over time due to the weight of the water and combined sediment. Ores being processed in ponds are especially heavy and tend to stretch non-reinforced liner products. Reinforced polyethylene (RPE), in particular, is designed to resist stretching and expansion under heavy loads. These liners are also more resistant to freezing damage caused in cold climates, making them a good choice for mines located in the higher and lower latitudes of the world.

How to choose the right thickness of geomembrane?

For the mining projects, the project is very big and very deep. Considering the weight of the mining material and the high pressure of the gas, the mining geomembrane’s property should be high enough. For example, tensile strength and elongation, and puncture-resistant, tear resistance.

According to most customers in mining projects, the 2mm thickness HDPE mining geomembranes is highly recommended, as is the ASTM GM13 standard property, 80 mils thickness, and can be more than 2mm thickness if possible.

Considering the budget and project design, the 1.5mm thickness is also workable for the mining projects, and the property meets the ASTM GM13 standard too.

Don’t become overwhelmed by the options available today for mining geomembranes. If you need help making your selections for various parts of your project, contact us here at YiShiTong. Our team will advise you on product choices based on each section of treatment or processing steps. No matter what kind of ponds and channels you need for your mine, we can help you find the right liner.