South Africa’s Water and Sanitation Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, has launched the Eastern Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) Treatment Plant, which ensures that the rising water levels in the abandoned Grootvlei mine do not contaminate groundwater.
The Eastern Basin Plant in Springs, outskirts of Johannesburg, is one of the largest of its kind in the world, treating approximately 110 mega litres per day.
The plant is among the three main basins in the Witwatersrand Goldfields. These include the Western Basin in the Krugersdorp Area, Central Basin in the Germiston Area and the Eastern Basin in the Springs Area. Both Western and Central Basins have been launched and are running smoothly.
The first long-term solution to AMD was launched at the Central Basin AMD Treatment Plant in Germiston in May 2016. This was the commencement of several integrated projects aimed at providing a long-term solution to AMD as well as a water secure future for the economic hub of Gauteng.
During the launch of the short and long-term solution in 2016, Minister Mokonyane said it would cost the department an estimated amount of R10 -12 billion.
Speaking at the launch on Friday, Minister Mokonyane said the construction of the new High Density Sludge Plant in the Eastern Basin has been successfully completed and commissioned.
She said in the procurement of an operator for the plant, similarly to the Central Basin, Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) will further pursue the objective of building broad-based capacity in the sector.
“This is in line with the theme of pursuing radical socio-economic transformation as outlined by President Zuma in the State of the Nation Address.
“Already, by directing one of our State-owned entities, TCTA to implement this initial phase of the AMD programme in the Witwatersrand, government has made a positive move in establishing the requisite knowledge node and capacity to deal with similar legacy issues related to AMD across the country,” said Minister Mokonyane.
TCTA was mandated by government in 2011 — through the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) — to provide a short-term solution to the AMD challenge in Gauteng. The short-term solution will now be integrated into the long-term solution.
The Minister said she was pleased that the construction of the plant was done by CMC / PG Mavundla Joint Venture, comprising CMC di Ravenna SA Branch and PG Mavundla Engineering (Pty) Ltd, which meets government’s transformation objectives of including the previously disadvantaged in these projects.
The plant has been completed and was declared operational on 16 September 2016.
To enable the plant to operate, the Minister said TCTA has extended the trial operations for a further six months to enable an operator to be appointed.
“Through TCTA we are also currently busy with a pilot study, which involves the deposition of sludge in the shaft at 700m below surface. The second phase of the pilot study is being finalised and will commence shortly.
“The second phase involves the drilling of boreholes in the mine void to allow disposal of sludge into the mine void. The drilling in this regard will commence shortly,” Minister Mokonyane explained.