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Sustainable management imperative for mining

20th August 2021


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Effective and efficient water management is a key aspect of all mining operations and is often one of the single most important considerations for developing an environmentally safe and sustainable mining project, say consulting engineering firm Knight Piésold Southern Africa senior hydrogeologists Wadzanai Chimhanda and Camille Kraak.

“Water is the world’s most valuable resource, and its allocation and management are key considerations, not only in the mining sector, but in all infrastructure and resource development activities. “This includes human consumption; our homes; municipal infrastructure; fabricating, processing, washing, diluting, and cooling on industrial sites; and power generation such as hydroelectricity.”

The management of water as a resource on a mining operation is critical – there is either too much, or too little, or there are issues around quality. “Developing cost-effective approaches to managing water quality and quantity, and minimising potential groundwater impacts remains a critical component to ensuring the success of a mining operation,” states Kraak.

This is why, explains Chimhanda, Knight Piésold’s hydrogeology department provides specialised water resource services to clients at all stages of project development, from early project identification through to project design, permitting, construction, operations and post closure.

Key hydrogeological services include, but are not limited to, baseline characterisation for scoping, prefeasibility and feasibility studies; design and implementation of field programmes to support baseline studies; field services, including the integration of geotechnical and hydrogeological testing programmes; dewatering strategies for underground and openpit mine design and input to improve stability of pit slopes and underground workings; water supply and groundwater resource development studies; and environmental-impact evaluations for groundwater and surface water resources.

“Our hydrogeology professionals support projects through effective development, management, and protection of groundwater resources,” Chimhanda states, adding that Knight Piésold’s Southern Africa hydrogeology department is supported and comprises six individuals, including Kraak and herself, who are able to support the South African and African offices with their hydrogeology expertise.

In fact, Kraak says that the hydrogeology department, that officially started on January 1, 2021, forms part of a greater mine service offering from the company, which has expanded its mining offering to infrastructure, and geotechnical and ground water services, with a rapid uptake in this space.

The expansion of these mining service offerings, she explains, is because Knight Piésold has recognised the exciting opportunities that are being presented on the African continent, and internationally, supported by an increase in demand for its mining services in the past 24 months.

The hydrogeological team can attest to this, with their footprint extending to mining projects across Africa. This includes a gold mine in Namibia and Senegal; a diamond mine in Botswana and Lesotho; a copper mine in Eritrea and Zambia; and copper, cobalt, lithium and tin mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We understand that each project is different across the African landscape. Our team develops innovative and cost-effective solutions tailored to respect environmental, social and economic responsibilities while supporting our clients’ objectives and working as part of a greater team to support the demand for mining services across the continent,” Chimhanda and Kraak conclude.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor


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