Acid Mine Drainage – Long-term Solution
The first phase, the Short-term Intervention, reduces the concentration of metals and neutralises the acid mine drainage. This phase is now complete and being operated by TCTA on behalf of DWS. The second phase, the Long-term Solution, treats the water from the first phase to a potable or industrial water standard for sale to consumers. Implementation of the Long-term Solution will reduce the need for dilution releases from the Vaal Dam and will augment water supplies to the Vaal River System, delaying the need for further augmentation.
During the 2017/18 financial year, progress was limited to the procurement of the engineering PSP for the treatment plants and the EIA process.
The tender for the procurement of the PSP, to undertake the configuration of the desalination plant/s including water off-takes and sludge disposal options, began on 2 March 2017. The tender evaluation and adjudication are complete and the appointment of the PSP is awaiting approval.
The EIA process started in August 2017. Baseline studies have begun with the recording of seasonal field data to ensure it is collected before the end of the rainy season. The draft scoping report based on the DWS feasibility study report has been prepared. The completion of the scoping process and the continuation of the EIA is subject to the outcome of the engineering optimisation report.
TCTA has started engagements, on behalf of DWS with potential off-takers for the treated water. The proceeds from the sale of this water will be used to offset the cost of treatment.
The feasibility study recommended the construction of desalination plant/s to treat acid mine drainage abstracted via the Short-term Intervention infrastructure to a potable or industrial standard as a long-term solution for the salinity impact of acid mine drainage on the Vaal River System.
This project was in preparatory phase in the last financial year but has regressed to an advisory phase due to DWS undertaking further studies on the impact of the effluent from the Short-term Intervention on the Vaal River System and National Treasury’s unwillingness to fund the two-thirds capital and operating costs or have the costs included in the Vaal River System.
During the year, the procurement of the PSP to undertake the optimisation of the layout of desalination plant/s including water off-takes was completed to the point where the award could be made. However, the award was not made due to further studies being undertaken by DWS and funding issues.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) activities were also suspended as these were dependant on the appointment of the Engineering PSP to produce the Conceptual Design Report to determine the final layout of the project.