Global independent third-party geotechnical testing and research company TRI Environmental launched its new African subsidiary, TRI Africa Environmental Services, last month.
Owing to an increase in demand for its third-party quality assurance geotechnical testing services on the African continent over the past several years, TRI Environmental has decided to establish a local subsidiary in Johannesburg. The new subsidiary is aimed at expanding the company’s ability to support clients through quality assurance and analytical testing field services across Africa.
The company now has operating service centres in the US, Brazil, China, Australia, India and South Africa.
The increase in demand for TRI Environmental services has been predominantly driven by more stringent environmental legislation regarding resource management, such as water supplies and environmental protection, on the African continent, TRI Africa director Nadia Minnaar explains to Mining Weekly.
She states that mining houses on the continent are being affected by such legislation, while stricter laws governing mine tailings facilities and waste disposal methods are adding pressure on mining facilities to remain compliant or run the risk of losing their water-use licences.
“Within the past year, we have seen the South African government, for instance, change its Water Act to such an extent that mines will have to have third-party construction quality assurance (CQA) testers on site to oversee the installation of new tailings facilities.”
Mine tailings facilities contain mine slurry and toxic by-products that require monitoring. Minnaar stresses that the toxic chemicals used to extract valuable materials from ore – such as cyanide used in gold mining – remain in mine slurry at the end of the process and may leach into groundwater, making it toxic for the surrounding environment and unusable.
In the past, tailings facilities’ liner installations would often leach harmful waste into surrounding groundwater, owing to liner tears incurred during construction, Minnaar points out. However, she enthuses that TRI Africa can now assist mining houses with the critical liner installation processes and post-installation testing, ensuring liner longevity for up to 100 years.
“TRI Africa can ensure that tailings facility liners are installed properly and are leak-free from the offset, giving our clients peace of mind knowing that facilities are completely compliant and that operations need not be stopped to perform costly liner repairs.”
TRI Environmental offers industries that operate with and dispose of hazardous materials routine verification testing services, interaction and transport-related research, leak location and related field services, manufacturing auditing, forensic investigations, as well as geosynthetic research and development that is supported by African governments and sectors.
TRI Africa Environmental Services will also provide the continent with independent, third-party quality CQA field support for compacted clay and geosynthetic installations, including electrical leak location surveys using spark testing and water puddle testing, as well as dipole and double dipole testing, which includes global positioning system-based electrical mapping.
TRI Africa also provides geosynthetic-related consulting with regard to manufacturing quality, geosynthetic quality programmes and the implementation of manufacturing and field quality regimes.
Minnaar adds that, while the new African subsidiary may be small, its parent company has significant experience, having provided CQA services for several mining, waste disposal and petrochemicals operations throughout Africa. She holds that TRI Africa is currently the only company operating in Africa that offers complete third-party geosynthetic CQA services.
“TRI Africa is not associated with any one engineering, consulting, construction or manufacturing company; therefore, it is able to work in noncompetitive concert with all industry participants.”
Minnaar concludes that TRI Africa’s ability to act as a third-party entity is what makes the new subsidiary’s offering strong. She states that officials and clients can be sure that liner installations overseen and tested by TRI Africa will be of the highest quality and that no “safety critical corners” will be cut.