Water management

Female employees at Anglo American lead the way

Female employees at Anglo American lead the way

Two female Anglo American employees are heading up a groundbreaking water management programme that is reaffirming the company’s vision to be a leader in mine water management. 

Dr Johanita Kotze is currently the principle of implementating Anglo American Technical Solutions’ Integrated Water Management Service (IWMS) for the company’s global operations. Janet Smith is conducting research into more effective reuse of water.

The IWMS is focused on assisting Anglo American’s operations and projects to effectively, efficiently and sustainably implement the company’s water strategy. It proposes a step-by-step approach to sift through the extensive data and issues flagged in both external and internal mine-water reviews and audits, identify the priority issues, and implement best practice solutions to those.

The initial phase of the IWMS, to identify key priorities at two sites, is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

Smith is a senior chemist at Technical Solutions’ Research Unit, who researches more effective reuse of water, specialising in water management and solid/liquid separation, primarily in the area of thickener optimisation.

A paper she co-authored, titled "Design and development of a novel thickener feedwell using computational fluid dynamics", was recently published in the journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy in November 2012.

The benefit of this research is that effective thickener performance allows achievement of maximum underflow solids and overflow clarity for a given purpose. Better quality thickener overflow water can be reused for plant processes, making water available for rapid recovery and reuse with minimal losses and energy requirements.

As part of the company’s ongoing water programmes, Smith is now involved in another AMIRA Project (AMIRA 1087) focused on integrated tailings management.

AMIRA is a global, independent association of minerals companies that develops, brokers and facilitates collaborative research projects. As a participating company, Anglo American is one of the funders, contributors and beneficiaries of AMIRA projects.

Kotze is principal hydrogeologist in Technical Solutions’ Consulting Unit, and heads up the implementation of an integrated water service for Anglo American’s global operations. She is the driving force behind IWMS, and is one of only a few hydrogeologists worldwide who possess the particular qualifications and experience she has. 

The Technical Solutions team is part of the company’s multidisciplinary Mining and Technology function, which is focused on water management.

Research into more effective reuse of water is only one of the many initiatives currently under way at Anglo American in support of the company’s water strategy and vision, with the company cognisant of both the environmental and profit value of increased efficiency in water use in its operations.

Richard Garner, water manager for Anglo American, concludes that the work of Smith and Kotze has proved critical to the real difference that the company is achieving in terms of water sustainability.

"With the current water stresses being experienced around the globe, effective water management and research is of paramount importance. Anglo American is therefore delighted in the results being achieved by the Integrated Water Management Service team and, in particular, the role being played by Janet and Johanita in furthering our water strategy.

“Through their innovative research and implemented techniques, they are ultimately helping to ensure our company can plan and implement totally integrated water initiatives that will maximise water recovery, and ensure sustainability to meet current and future water needs.”


More on water management in the next edition of Mining Prospectus

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Issue 42