Mine water at forefront of global mining club activities

30th April 2010 By: Carla Thomaz

Global water solution company Veolia Water Solutions and Technologies has formed the Veolia Water Global Mining Club in an effort to combine all the technologies in the company that focus specifically on the mining industry, particularly issues pertaining to acid mine drainage (AMD) water, which is a significant problem globally, as well as mine closures. Local water solutions provider VWS Envig, a wholly owned subsidiary of Veolia Water Solutions and Technologies, has been nominated as a global mining market leader within the club.

Veolia Water Global Mining Club South African representative Martin Kotze explains that, with AMD becoming an increasingly greater problem overseas, the club aims to develop new technologies and focus on existing technologies that actively and passively clean water, as well as to solve problems facing the mining industry as a whole.

He notes that South Africa is taking the lead on acid mine water treatment. While South Africa treats AMD water to potable water levels for consumption by local municipalities, other countries do not have such advanced environmental laws as South Africa and their water treatment processes stop at processed water that can be discharged into a river system.

"Sub-Sahara Africa is particularly lagging behind South Africa, especially on the environmental side to clean up disused mines. In South Africa, the treatment of AMD water is in a growth phase and, if cost can be reduced, it will find more acceptance in the market to sell the AMD treated water to industrial and private users," he says.

VWS Envig has completed the supply and commissioning of three Actiflo clarification plants, six sectional tanks as well as the supply of various dosing systems for AngloGold Ashanti's Obuasi mine, in Ghana, last year.

Kotze notes that the installation of the clarification plants, as an effective means to remove heavy metals from wastewater, is the first of its kind on the African continent. He adds that a further plant is being commissioned at the mine this year, capable of processing 600 m³/h of water.

Meanwhile, the Global Mining Club has representatives of 15 countries participating in meetings, with main role players coming from South Africa, Australia, the US and Canada, which have the largest mining industries globally and where the technology centres lie. The club is starting to focus on China's growing mining market and Veolia Water sees it as a potential future client.

Kotze explains that the club holds monthly discussions on the different problems being faced in the different countries and possible solutions to these problems. He adds that country representatives also discuss key account management of specific clients and ways to promote the company as a whole in the mining industry.

As South African representative, Kotze's role is to interact with clients, promoting Veolia technologies and finding technical solutions for their needs. Kotze interacts with the club's international counterparts to come up with viable solutions when local technologies are not suitable.

"We to work closer together, internationally, to transfer knowledge between countries so you do not have to start from scratch with design work. While the technologies are very similar, they do need to be adapted slightly for local conditions and client specifications," he says.

Amdro, a recently patented technology from Veolia Water Solutions and Technologies, consists of multiple processes including, clarification, media filtration, reverse osmosis, and ion exchange for polishing, which generates high quality effluent with minimum pre-treatment requirements. VWS Envig ensures that clients have access to industry proven technologies, including patented Actiflo,and Multiflo as well as zero liquid discharge technologies.

As part of the company's aim to become a global leader in the mining industry, VWS Envig is working on new developments to reduce pretreatment costs and to increase recovery rates.

"We want to grow the South African portion of the mining industry and become the preferred supplier to the large mines," concludes Kotze.