Mine lake rehabilitation proposal seeks African mining partner

22nd March 2013

By: Sashnee Moodley

Senior Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia


Font size: - +

Australian company Ngalang Boodja Enterprises (NBE) is hoping to break new ground in the African mining sector through the commercial use of mine voids.

The mine-void project, has been successfully implemented at ASX-listed Wesfarmers’ Premier Coal mine, in Western Australia, and is known as the Ngalang Boodja mine lake aquaculture farm.

The project highlights the link between aqua- culture and mining operations, which can be used to provide the surrounding mining area and community with a habitable environment for aquatic life through a rehabilitated mine void.

In Australia, treated mine water is currently being used to grow local freshwater crayfish in 22 farm ponds that have been built alongside a mine lake that is located on an existing mining lease.

A local Aboriginal community and a board of directors, comprising local leaders, currently manage the farm.

Water that gathers in mine voids form lakes, which are bodies of water that become inhabit- able environments for aquatic life, owing to chemical processes that produce high acidity and high levels of dissolved metals.

NBE CEO Louis Evans says the company has established a presence in Africa and hopes to determine partnership opportunities with an African mining company, government and a local community to develop a tilapia farm.

These freshwater cichlid fish have become the third-most important fish in aquaculture, after carp and salmon, and have been widely introduced to many areas on the continent as a food source.

Evans says the aim of the proposed project is to build an integrated aquaculture business that will produce tilapia fish using relevant and the latest and best farming practices available in Africa.

Project manager for Africa and consultant to NBE Richard Clark says African mining operations are often located in areas that have low rainfall, which places pressure on the communities that rely on agriculture as their main source of income.

He says the use of treated water from mine lakes, for which the rehabilitation project is ideally suited, could create food security opportunities for communities in low-income socioeconomic areas.

The prefeasibility criteria for mining companies to advance to full feasibility for the mine-void project include identifying an area around the mine lake that is suitable for the development of a tilapia farm and associated plant-based food-production areas; a community in need of food security, training and employment; and a mine lake whose water can be treated to a suitable standard for tilapia production.

NBE has been operating out of two mine lakes that have a pH of 3.4 and a high concentration of metals.

“Ideally, if the mining company has a pit lake, with fresh water and no contaminants, a grow-out section of the farm could be located on the actual lake using floating cages, which allow for low construction costs,” says Clark.

Once a favourable mining company and mine have been identified, the mining-com- pany-funding government or aid agencies will be required to fund a full feasibility study by a tilapia consultant and NBE to assess the farm’s commercial viability and social returns to the mining company and its community.

The mining company could then decide if it wants to continue with the project.

NBE will design the farm using the best aquaculture practices set out by nonprofit trade association Global Aquaculture Alliance. The best practices certification defines the most important elements of responsible aquaculture and provides quantitative guidelines, which evaluate adherence to those practices.

Once a farm is constructed, landscaping and revegetation of indigenous plants around the farm can take place.

Evans says NBE aims to ensure that the farm is aesthetically pleasing and well designed to showcase the tilapia farming and mine-lake rehabilitation.

The local community will be trained to ope- rate the farm and, after three to four years, the assets and operational management will be handed over to the community, with an advisory board and appropriate business structure to ensure that the farm remains viable, well managed and productive.

Evans says that such a venture has the potential to attract substantial international interest and is suitable for mining companies that hope to lead the way in environmental and social responsibility.

Further, she believes that this project will have significant benefits for the mining company involved.

“The project will provide an opportunity for the mining company to pioneer this technology in Africa and position itself as a leading innovator in mine-lake rehabilitation, as well as increase its social commitment to the area through training, employment and food production. The project can also be included in the company’s yearly sustainable report,” she notes.

The company can also avoid high recla- mation costs and improve labour and government relations, which could lead to more scope for managing the closure process for other sites.

In 2009, Premier Coal was awarded the Western Australian Corporate Business Leading by Example Environment award for their contribution to the creation of the Ngalang Boodja mine lake aquaculture farm.

Edited by Megan van Wyngaardt
Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online


The content you are trying to access is only available to subscribers.

If you are already a subscriber, you can Login Here.

If you are not a subscriber, you can subscribe now, by selecting one of the below options.

For more information or assistance, please contact us at

Option 1 (equivalent of R125 a month):

Receive a weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine
(print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa)
Receive daily email newsletters
Access to full search results
Access archive of magazine back copies
Access to Projects in Progress
Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format

Option 2 (equivalent of R375 a month):

All benefits from Option 1
Access to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa for ALL Research Reports, in PDF format, on various industrial and mining sectors including Electricity; Water; Energy Transition; Hydrogen; Roads, Rail and Ports; Coal; Gold; Platinum; Battery Metals; etc.

Already a subscriber?

Forgotten your password?