Gold Miners Will Sell Pumped Water

JOHANNESBURG (Business Day) -- The gold mining companies operating in the Klerksdorp-Orkney area, which have had to pay for pumping water out of other, disused, mines in the area, are to launch a business to ease costs.

Last week the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled Harmony Gold Mining was obliged to bear a share of the costs of pumping. These arose from the liquidation of DRDGOLD's Northwest operations and Stilfontein.

If not pumped, the water would flow southwards to flood AngloGold Ashanti's and Harmony's operations in the area.

Simmer & Jack has taken over the Northwest operations and its share of the pumping obligation. Stilfontein's obligation will now be carried by Simmers, AngloGold Ashanti and Harmony.

AngloGold Ashanti said in its latest Report to Society that Stilfontein's Margaret shaft was pumping 37 megalitres a day. Five other shafts were pumping far less - 20.5 megalitres a day.

It was reported last year that the affected mining companies were planning to set up a company that would sell the water to local users to help pay for the costs of pumping.

AngloGold Ashanti said all mining companies and stakeholders agreed at a meeting last October to set up a company, which would ultimately benefit the community, mining companies and the government.

Water affairs and forestry department director: resource protection and waste Carin Bosman said the department had decided that if an arrangement could be reached among the parties to set up a water company they could go ahead.

But it was being delayed by questions over the ownership of Stilfontein. This was a decision for the minerals and energy department.

AngloGold Ashanti executive officer Africa: underground mining Robbie Lazare said the issue was that after Stilfontein liquidated the Margaret shaft the state was required to deliver on certain promises to put the assets into the new water company.

The three companies involved would each contribute R18 million ($2.68 million) to put infrastructure in place. They would pay about R1.5 million (223,600) a month each to pump water out of the disused mines.

They plan to sell water to the Midvaal Water Company, which serves Orkney and Klerksdorp, at a reduced rate because it still needs to be treated. The water can also be sold to industrial users in the area instead of their using water from the Vaal River.

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