On 18 March, a TCTA Board delegation visited the Central Basin, one of the three Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) plants. The tour aimed to acquaint Technical Committee members with the facility’s operations and challenges and how they were being addressed. The delegation was led by PMID Executive Manager Johann Claassens, Project Manager for AMD Craig Hasenjager and Senior Process Engineer Goitseone Kgwele.
According to the Board members who were in attendance, the site visit proved beneficial, and the presentations provided all the clarity needed to understand the issues. “I firmly believe that there has been significant progress in relation to the operation and maintenance of the plant. The visit provided more insight and enhanced our appreciation of some of the operational challenges that impact the achievement of our objectives,” said Board Chair Gerald Dumas.
Simphiwe Kondlo, the Chair of the Technical Committee, echoed Dumas’s words. “The operator demonstrates a lot of competence in managing the site and (has) a high regard for safety matters,” he said. “The scale of the operation is impressive, and the submersible pumps add a huge element of complexity to the operation—this is a world-class operation.”
Board Deputy Chair Maemili Ramataboe expressed joy over what she saw at the AMD facility. “There is reasonable progress on-site, especially given the nature of handover from the previous operator,” she said. The new operator has put systems and controls in place to operate professionally. On-site staff demonstrated an impressive level of expertise.
“The staff were each able to make informative presentations in the different areas,” added Ramataboe. “The root causes around the pumps that continually break down and, for which there are no spares, were clearly explained. Actions to address the issue are likely to result in effective future decision-making.”
Seeing the Central Basin engendered a holistic understanding of AMD treatment, said Board member Lindelwa Dlamini. “It became easier to follow the logic of the reports we consume quarterly. The progress highlighted during the presentations and the site walk-about indicates that, with time and continued dedication, we will eventually get to meet our objectives as set for the Central Basin.
“For all employees working on the project, your hard work and dedication show—keep up the good work and the great environmental and safety (statistics).”
Visiting the site for the first time was Chris Kistasamy, the Executive Manager for EWSS. The experience allowed him to contextualise the matters discussed in the various committees. “I would recommend that this type of visit be a must for TCTA employees, especially those who have never been to our sites,” said Kistasamy. Such visits would enhance employees’ understanding of the importance of TCTA’s work and its impact on the country.
Kistasamy added that the processes around water treatment, especially in respect to removing heavy impurities, were very interesting. The opportunities to recycle the waste in the long term bode well for TCTA. “We also had an opportunity to understand various areas of technology being used to monitor the plant,” said Kistasamy. “I was quite interested in how we could expand on these into the future as it relates to the telemetry aspects and further opportunities to optimise the running of the plant.”
As the tour ended, Kondlo expressed hope that the Central Basin operation held lessons for the future for TCTA and it could benefit the water sector to open it to more research work. “The TCTA team has done extremely well in dealing with the challenge relating to the functionality of the highly specialised submersible pumps,” he said. “The challenges (facing) global supply chains and the need for ongoing support for specialised equipment… call for TCTA to consider learnings in terms of such specialised acquisitions. One hopes there is proper documentation of lessons learnt.”
The Board Chair also thanked the TCTA team. “Despite the challenges, your efforts in ensuring the cost-effective operation of the plant and ensuring the progressive achievement of objectives is appreciated”, concluded Dumas.