Cornerstone - Spring 2014 - (Page 74)
S O CIE T Y & C U LT U R E
Turning a Liability into an Asset
By Nikki Fisher
Coal Stewardship Manager, Anglo American Coal South Africa
Manager, Hydrology, Anglo American Coal South Africa
WATER: A PRECIOUS COMMODITY
ater was once thought of as the great unlimited
resource. However, the competing demands of agricultural, industrial, and domestic uses, combined
with a changing climate, now threaten dwindling supplies.
Mining is a water-intensive industry, and coal is often found in
regions of the world where water is scarce. Restricted availability in water-limited regions requires mining companies to view
water as a strategically important, non-renewable resource.
Limited water availability poses a significant risk to the industry, both in terms of security of supply for routine operations
and for long-term sustainability. Water supply shortages not
only impact the sustainability of current and future operations, but can add to project and operational costs and risk.
As a consequence, the value of water must be integrated into
business processes and decisions.
In South Africa, coal mining has historically been concentrated in
the Mpumalanga Highveld. In this area, mining and agriculture
are the largest users and compete with domestic users for water
resources. eMalahleni is a municipality of 510,000 people in a
water-stressed region of northeastern South Africa. One of the
fastest growing urban areas in the country, it has faced considerable
difficulties in meeting increasing demand for drinking water. The
city lies within the Olifants River Catchment-one of the regions in
which Anglo American has been working with internationally recognized research institutions to develop long-term climate models.
The results, projected up to 2050, suggest that there is potential for
a reduction in mean annual rainfall in this area.
"The eMalahleni Water Reclamation
Plant is a flagship sustainability
project that has demonstrated how
the success of a project lies in the
strength of the engagement and
Mining influences not only the amount of surface and groundwater available for other users, but can also impact water
chemistry. In South Africa, mining has received negative
publicity in recent years because of acid mine drainage and
mismanagement of contaminated mine water. As such, it is
essential that mining companies take a leadership role in managing water to protect not only their own access and use, but
also protect the needs of other users and the environment.
In the eMalahleni region of South Africa Anglo American has
found a way to use excess mine water to fill its own needs,
create jobs, and provide clean water to the local community.
These homes were built under phase 1 of the project.
Through a number of initiatives, Anglo American is focusing on
understanding the value of water to the business, both financially
and in the broader sense. The company has an ambitious 10-year
strategy that is split into three distinct steps. The first step, Be
Disciplined, is about getting the basics right. The second step, Be
Proactive, encourages operations to go beyond compliance. The
third, Build Resilience, takes us to being part of broader, catchment-level water solutions. Our intention is to achieve "water
neutrality" at our new mines by 2030. Implementation of this
strategy is being realized through our initiatives in three focus
areas: improving operational excellence, investing in technology,
and engaging and partnering with our stakeholders.
Water management has to start at home. Mines must ensure
legal compliance, identify risks, set targets, build capacity, and
identify and communicate with stakeholders.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Cornerstone - Spring 2014
From the Editor: Water Crisis Calls for Common Action
Cover Story: Reducing Energy’s Water Footprint: Driving a Sustainable Energy Future
Thirsty Energy: Integrated Energy-Water
Planning for a Sustainable Future
Exploring Global Energy Challenges: Exclusive Interview with Nobuo Tanaka
Advancing China’s Coal Industry
What to Watch in 2014: Policy Developments
That Will Shape the Coal Industry
Identifying the Global Coal Industry’s Water Risks
Assessing Water Issues in China’s Coal Industry
Coal-Based Electricity Generation in India
Considering Emissions From Amine-Based
CO2 Capture Before Deployment
Exploring the Possibilities: The NETL Power Plant Water Program
Advanced Cooling Technologies for Water Savings at Coal-Fired Power Plants
Water-Saving FGD Technologies
Supplying Water to Power Plants with Desalination Technology
Moving Coal Up the Value Chain
Turning a Liability into an Asset
Connecting Indonesian Communities to Clean Water
Cornerstone - Spring 2014