The Water Research Commission and Acid Mine Drainage Research Dr Jo Burgess • 21st July 2010
The Water Research Commission • Created by the Water Research Act, 1971. • Water quantity and quality are critical to South Africa’s long-term sustainability. • Research and development have provided for the development of policies and strategies that allow for the sustainability of our water resources. • Emphasises the important role of water-centred knowledge in the past, & its increasingly important role in providing knowledge which will allow us to deal with new challenges that are facing our limited water resources in future.
Mandate of the WRC focuses on: • An integrated approach to meeting South Africa’s societal/water sector R&D needs. • Integrated solutions to invariably complex, inter-disciplinary problems. • Ongoing strategic identification of needs (short-, medium- and long-term needs, both explicit and implicit). • A set of key strategic areas (KSAs) for investing in knowledge creation, transfer and dissemination.
Key Strategic Areas Water Use Water Use and Waste Management Water Utilisation in Agriculture Water Resources Water-Linked Ecosystems • Water Resource Management • Water-Centred Knowledge
Mine water-related projects Key Strategic Area 3 Water Use & Waste Management Thrust 1 Water Services – Institutional and Management Issues Thrust 2 Water Supply and Treatment Technology Thrust 3 Wastewater and Effluent Treatment and Reuse Technology Thrust 4 Industrial and Mine Water Management Thrust 5 Sanitation, Health and Hygiene Education
Focus areas in AMD • Improved Predictive Ability • Generation of acid drainage. • Rise in water levels and/or time and point of decant when pumping associated with active mining stops. • Minimising the Production and Impact of Acid Mine Drainage • Several approaches evaluated to reduce production and impact of AMD. • Regional closure strategy developed and is being implemented by the regulating authorities to ensure responsible closing of mines in the same ore body. (Fundamental change from the previous approach, mine closure of individual mines). • Treatment Technologies • Acidity and dissolved metal added to low rainfall exacerbate salinity associated with AMD (and neutralised AMD) (e.g. effluents from gold mines contribute estimated 35% of the salt load within approx. 6% of the water flow at the Barrage in the Vaal River). Much research is focused on technology to remove sulphate and metals and to neutralise acidity.
Previous mine water projects • See brochure: Mine Water Reports.
Mine Water • Highlights • Mine opening strategy for Waterberg coal resources. • Largest ever International Mine Water Association hosted in Pretoria. • Cleaner production guidelines specifically for the mining industry completed & launched early 2010. • New energy efficient method to remove metals & salts from a mixed solution one at a time (eutectic freeze). • Pilot plant application of novel process (ambient temperature ferrite process) for treatment of AMD. • Future Research Focus • Focus on cleaner production at unit operation level to prevent pollution. • AMD prevention in preference to treatment. • Improved water quality monitoring from mining -novel sensors to detect groundwater pollution from mining activity. • Liquid emulsion membranes to treat recalcitrant platinum group metals. • Inspect water footprint / carbon footprint trade-off in mining.
Technology transfer • Work closely with Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA), DWA, Chamber of Mines (CoM), Coaltech, International Mine Water Association (IMWA) and International Network on Acid Prevention (INAP). • DWA: Fifteen Best Practice Guidelines for Resource Protection in the SA Mining Industry. Four deal with DWA’s water management hierarchy, five with general water management strategies, techniques and tools, and six with specialised mining activities or aspects. • WRC, MWD of WISA, DWA and CoM hosted two symposia (Oct 2007, Feb 2009, Oct 2009) to develop and launch new Global Acid Rock Drainage Guide. • WRC and MWD of WISA together with IMWA hosted an International Minewater Conference from 19 to 23 October 2009.
Further information • WRC website: www.wrc.org.za • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Mine water research brochure • Summary report • Knowledge Review • Project research reports