Platreef’s Innovative Waste Water Management

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Mining operations are known for high water usage, which presents a significant challenge in Africa’s water-scarce regions. Ivanhoe’s Platreef Project in Mokopane, South Africa, has successfully addressed its water supply needs through a creative arrangement with the Mogalakwena Local Municipality (MLM).

The Mogalakwena area, which is prone to medium-risk droughts, surrounds the Platreef mine, where Phase 1 operations will require up to 3 million liters of water daily, increasing to 9 million liters following Phase 2 expansion.

In 2018, Ivanhoe, through its majority-owned subsidiary Ivanplats, reached a deal with MLM to procure water from MLM’s Masodi Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW). This facility was completed during the third quarter of 2023.

Ivanhoe’s Founder and Co-Chairman, Robert Friedland, emphasized the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of using treated wastewater from the Masodi plant, which originates from local residential and commercial sources. This strategy aligns with Ivanhoe’s mission to establish environmentally responsible mining operations.

“Masodi will provide most of the water we need to process our ore and, at the same time, help to minimise Platreef’s environmental footprint. Our commitment to effectively manage environmental impacts of our operations is central to Ivanhoe’s undertaking to build some of the ‘greenest’ mines in the world.”

The initial agreement was updated in January 2022, with MLM committing to supply Ivanplats with 3 to 10 million liters of treated effluent daily for a period of 32 years, starting from Platreef’s first production phase projected for the fourth quarter of 2024.

This long-term arrangement includes a commitment from Ivanplats to support the completion of the Masodi facility with up to R248 million in financial aid. In return, Ivanplats will benefit from a reduced water purchase rate to compensate for its initial investment.

Ivanplats also plans to enhance and modernize local sewage treatment capabilities to support future operational expansions, ensuring the treated water is of an adequate standard for the mine’s processing plant.

South Africa’s Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, praised the project during a recent site visit, highlighting it as a model for public-private partnerships aimed at boosting service delivery and community socio-economic progress.

Ivanhoe Mines continues to be a leader in sustainable and responsible mining, demonstrating that with the right partnerships and innovative approaches, mining operations can significantly reduce their environmental footprint while contributing to local water security and community development.

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