With a spotlight on the harmful effects of certain businesses on the environment, most mining operations are under pressure to ensure they not only meet regulatory requirements, but also choose the correct approach to existing problems that won’t harm the environment.

As such, resource management company Veolia is committed to and are acting upon ecological transformation, in response to the environmental emergency.

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED IN MINING REVIEW AFRICA ISSUE 3, 2021
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Veolia is fully committed to supporting the mining industry as a partner through the following:

  • Additional production/yield improvement;
  • Enhancement of social license to operate;
  • Improvement of cost position;
  • Promotion of sustainability and a greener image;
  • Moving water, waste and energy operations from a risk to a business opportunity; and
  • Identify and leverage state-of-the-art solutions.

The starting point of a journey with Veolia would be to look at the true cost of water in a mining operation. This is to determine water-related risks including water scarcity, extended water shortages, flooding, external water contamination and water price increases.

The consequences of not addressing these issues have been illustrated by several examples such as the closure of a mine for nearly one month, due to non-conforming discharge water which cost the mine in question around 15 000oz of product and a further US$26 million to construct an emergency water treatment works.

Another case from a few years back relates to a mining operation shut down due to pollution, as a result of an NGO and surrounding communities mobilising to stop the operations resulting in serious reputational damage. A parastatal development bank was forced to pay remediation costs when the environmental pollution caused by poor management of an African Chrome mine became apparent and their operations were shut down. The clean-up costs at the time amounted to $560 000.

These are just a few instances where mismanagement of wastewater has had devastating implications. Veolia can assist with mitigating risks, through a phased approach, with any required Capex expenditure being planned for. It is the company’s belief that all mines should strive towards Zero Effluent Discharge (ZED) programmes. To date, Veolia has assisted several African operations to achieve this.

Contributing to the circular economy

Veolia offers a full lifecycle partnership, from mine exploration, development, construction and operation to closure – ensuring all appropriate local standards are met. The company’s expertise in the field of Operations and Maintenance (O&M) ensures that all water and wastewater plants are run efficiently and ultimately reduce operational costs for the client.

Veolia has some 350 registered technologies that can be harnessed. Digital technologies, like the unique “Hubgrade“ system, a remote monitoring management tool, enables plants in all industries to run optimally and extend their lifespan. The advent of Veolia’s Impact 2023 further refines its services and total solutions mandate within the context of the circular economy.

In addition to this, Veolia also invests in waste recycling programmes that encourage skills development and job creation initiatives. Its participation in the Baobab project, a 3rd Place in Durban, which is dedicated to sustainable living and innovative waste solutions, serves as a good example.