Market cycles, difficulties in accessing natural resources, greater environmental responsibility, and links with local communities: the mining industry faces a number of challenges that mean reconciling productivity and sustainability.
Water, waste and energy represent a significant proportion of the expenditure of a mine, particular in the most remote parts of the world. Energy alone may even rise to more than 30% of operating costs. Improving productivity in the sector is all the more difficult because it has to contend with a fall in the grade and quality of the accessible mineral deposits. More resources now have to be deployed to extract the same amount of ore. However better waste management in particular, makes it possible to maximize the value of mineral by-products efficiently.
On the scale of the African continent, environmental issues are key and it is important to prioritize good water management in order to avoid the problems of pollution generated by the extraction of minerals, particularly gold. In compliance with the industry’s highest health and safety standards, Veolia helps mining companies operating in Africa to increase their profitability and at the same time reduce risks – from the exploration and exploitation phases right to site closure. By minimizing pollution, demonstrating environmental responsibility and improving cooperation with local communities, mining companies guarantee the long-term acceptability and therefore productivity of their project.
The case of Ghana
In Ghana, Veolia has been working with South African industrialist AngloGold Ashanti, the world’s third largest gold producer, since 2014. It began with the Iduapriem open-pit mine in the west of the country followed by the Obuasi mine in southern Ghana in 2019. Contracts cover operation and maintenance of all the mine’s water treatment plants.
Water is of course essential in ore processing, dust removal, sludge transport, and for personnel. Specifically in Obuasi, Veolia manages 4 wastewater plants and 2 drinking water plants. These facilities guarantee the quality of water treatment and discharges from the operation of the gold mine by AngloGold Ashanti and provide water to the base.
In a tropical climate where heavy seasonal precipitation often complicates water treatment, Veolia helps the Ghanaian gold mine manage its wastewater and process residues in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency regarding discharges into the ecosystem.