South Africa: Facility too late to resolve crisis
3 April 2012
fin24 - April 1, 2012
Johannesburg – Ion exchange, the technology that Trailblazer Technologies wants to use to process South African acid mine drainage into water for stimulating agricultural production, also involves all the elements of creating thousands of jobs.
But this can take place only years from now. According to the timelines applicable to the Western Utilities Corporation (WUC) project, it will take at least five to six years before an ion-exchange facility can be built and commissioned.
And this is while the Central Witwatersrand Basin’s acid mine water will surface during the course of this year.
To tell the truth, its emergence was predicted for January this year – but no-one knows exactly when it will occur.
This is because the underground water channels created from around a century of mining below the Boksburg-Germiston region make a more accurate prediction too difficult.
It will take at least two to three years to test the technology of an ion-exchange process in a pilot plant.
It could easily take another two to three years to build an industrial plant.
It's hopelessly too late to resolve the impending crisis in the Vaal River scheme, but Trailblazer could in time become an important factor at, for instance, mines with individual water problems, such as large coal mines.
On the other hand, the “acid mine-water space”, as innovators and entrepreneurs refer to the problem, has in recent years begun to resemble a Formula 1 race track with too many drivers.