In 2010, the United Nations affirmed the following: “The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.”
In 2015, the General Assembly introduced 17 Sustainable Development Goals (with SDG 6 focusing specifically on water) to improve global sustainability outcomes by 2030.
Today, billions are still living without safe access to drinking water.
Waterless Mines: Our Vision for the Future
It’s our duty to serve the communities we impact in a positive way. A path to achieving that is FutureSmart Mining™, our innovation-led approach to sustainable mining, which includes our Sustainable Mining Plan (SMP), aligned to the UN’s SDGs.
To impact water scarcity on a global level, our ambition is to operate waterless mines in water-scarce areas. We hope to eliminate freshwater usage from mining processes – and to eventually achieve a near-waterless mine – by focusing on the following:
- Innovative ways to separate and transport waste
- Detailed measurement of water evaporation levels
- Close monitoring of all dry-tailings disposals and non-aqueous processing
- New water balance reporting to measure how much water is flowing through every site
We are working to achieve the 2020 goals detailed in the SMP related to water, as listed below:
- Reduce absolute freshwater abstractions by 20%
- Recycle or re-use water to meet 75% of our global water requirements
- Record no Level 3 (or above) incidents at any of our sites
Coal South Africa’s Mafube Team: From Mine Water to Maize Crops
Our team from South Africa’s Mafube colliery have devised a way to re-use mine water to grow local crops and improve crop yield for local farmers.
“During the mining process, we re-use as much water as we can,” said Ritva Muhlbauer, Manager Hydrology, from Coal South Africa’s Sustainable Development and Energy team, who led the project. “We recycle the water and store it in the pits. But the real problem comes when we close the mine: how do we deal with the water in the long term when we can’t discharge it?”
The Mafube team wanted a solution that would efficiently use water and potentially provide employment for local people, including for ex-miners once their site closed.
They collaborated with South Africa’s Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and a local farmer, who planned for a large irrigation framework and pipeline to be installed. Together, they hoped to increase food security, create jobs for the local community, and generate revenue for farmers…Full Story