Gauteng’s new acid mine treatment plant the largest in the world
A third high-density sludge treatment plant in Gauteng is one of a number of ways government hopes to bolster the water supply in the province.
Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane opening the Eastern Basin Acid Mine Drainage Treatment plant in Springs on Friday.
Two other plants‚ the Western Basin in Krugersdorp and the Central Basin in Germiston‚ have been operational for a few years.
The Eastern Basin is the largest of the three and the largest of its kind in the world‚ Mokonyane said.
The plants are part of government’s plan to stop polluted mine water from reaching a certain level below the surface‚ which affects the country’s water sources.
The polluted water is extracted from the mine void in the region to the three treatment plants.
Once the water has been treated it is released into nearby water sources‚ such as wetlands‚ streams and dams.
“The problem of acid mine drainage has persisted for centuries and we have taken steps to address the challenge‚” Mokonyane said
The Krugersdorp plant had the capacity to treat 50 megalitres a day‚ Central can treat 82 megalitres a day and Springs can treat 110 megalitres a day.
The treated water in Springs is transferred to Bleskopsruit wetland‚ a subcatchment of the Vaal River catchment.
Mokonyane said the Central Basin was currently treating 82 megalitres a day‚ sufficient to draw down the water level to protect the underground water resources.
She said these solutions cost the country an estimated R10 billion to R12 billion.
The drought has made obvious the country’s water insecurity. Even without a drought‚ South Africa is a semi-arid country.
“These interventions on (acid mine drainage) and the construction of phase two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project‚ as well as the pursuance of a diversified water mix‚ drawing increasingly from underground water resources‚ we are decisively intervening to secure the water future of this part of the country for the next 30 years‚” Mokonyane said.