Part of Bigen Africa’s five year ‘S-Vision 2016’ strategy aimed at improving all of Africa’s infrastructure needs, is to help mitigate the demands on South Africa’s scarce water resources and its deteriorating raw water quality.
This will be done through designing, developing, managing and delivering water and waste-water treatment solutions for significant industry water consumers.
Bigen Africa’s approach to solving water and wastewater challenges in the mining sector is based largely on decades of experience.
“The technologies we offer are determined by and depend on the various challenges faced by a particular mining operation. It is true that similar water challenges are faced by mines processing similar minerals, but our experience has shown that the water circuit of each mine is unique and presents unique opportunities for improved water use. What makes Bigen Africa’s approach unique is that we first engage with mines to fully understand their individual various water circuits, and then develop appropriate solutions which best fit its operational and legislative requirements. We also assist mines to develop rural communities as part of their social investment programmes,” says Bigen Africa Services project director, Corrie Marx.
This approach has seen the company take on considerable work in the sector, where it is currently involved in a number of projects dealing with the planning design and implementation of source development, water supply, water and wastewater treatment, water conservation and demand management and water reclamation for a number of mines and mining groups.
The key to retaining a strong position within the mining industry going forward – in terms of meeting its water needs – is to understand and meet its current needs and difficulties.
“Protection of the environment is one of our key objectives in developing solutions for the mining industry, but the delays caused by the environmental authorisation processes should be reviewed. They are significantly reducing project implementation times,” points out Marx.
Bigen Africa’s tactic is to engage with the relevant national departments at a very early stage, in order to raise awareness of projects, and ensure it develops as a non-threatening entity to its environment.
“We are currently involved in a number of producers’ forums in the Eastern and Western Limbs where a number of water-related (and other) projects are being developed. These projects include studies to augment water supply to the areas by means of water large transfer schemes, water demand management, water re-use and projects to improve the water supply systems to neighbouring communities,” explains Marx.
One such project includes the review of a mine water balance and the development of a water reclamation facility to reduce the total water consumption of the particular mine.
Another project includes the sourcing of water and the development of a water supply system for a new mine in a water scarce area.
Marx notes that both projects are at a very sensitive stage, and the names therefore cannot be made available.
Bigen Africa’s water commitment also extends into the much talked about acid mine drainage crisis South Africa is currently facing.
“We have been involved locally on a number of mines, as well as in Australia in developing treatment processes for acid mine drainage prevention and treatment,” Marx notes.