This new pond facility represents an innovative solution and is the first of its kind globally. It provides unlimited capacity due to continuous reclamation of the dried coal slimes, which can be used as a fuel source.
It consists of four ponds, each with a capacity of 365 000 m3 (total 14 600 003 m3), two return water dams 68 000 m3 in size each, a pump station, a sub-station and a slurry delivery line.
The large-scale installation of a sophisticated barrier and drainage system along with the reclamation of the coal fines as a continuous operation (on-going re-mining) are industry firsts.
According to project manager, Happy Ntsala, the new environment-friendly facility will prevent harming the environment by adhering to strict pollution prevention and control measures.
“We considered the available methods in the market and preferred the cyclic ponds due to the technological advancements and our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint. The ponds are not a permanent storage facility but serve as a temporary ‘drying’ facility before reclamation.”
Ntsala added; “This solution has not been used elsewhere in the world as far as we know. The design of the evaporative drying of the coal fines is based on modern and on-going research on the subject and science of evaporative drying.”
Grootegeluk coal beneficiation operations manager Adrie Conradie commended the team on the excellent and safe execution of the project. “Today is a proud moment for us; we’ve once again demonstrated our commitment to operating in a responsible and sustainable manner.”
The Department of Water Affairs also gave the facility a thumbs up during one of its recent visits to the site and encouraged Exxaro to share their expertise and innovation with industry peers to uplift the standard of mining in South Africa and beyond.