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TCTA comes up with power alternative amid ‘war zone’ at Mintails plant

The Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) on Thursday announced that its acid mine drainage (AMD) water treatment plant in the Western basin, near Krugersdorp, could not be reopened as planned on June 4.

This was owing to an escalating security threat at the adjacent Mintails gold treatment plant, where illegal miners have reportedly been stripping the plant.

The AMD Western basin plant had been out of commission since May 24, owing to cable theft and a resultant power failure that rendered a pump station out of order, as well as general vandalism caused by the illegal miners.

The TCTA, in collaboration with precious metals miner Sibanye-Stillwater, had, at the time, been rerouting the cable line through an overhead power line to make the cables inaccessible to cable thieves and as a means to speed up the repair process.

However, as of June 3, the cable rerouting had to be abandoned owing to a deteriorating safety situation in the neighbouring area.

TCTA project management manager Johann Claassens said in a release issued on Thursday that the Mintails site was previously secured; however, when it was placed under business rescue, the appointed liquidators withdrew the security services, paving the way for a “war zone”, with armed zama-zamas taking over in the area.

The TCTA now plans to draw electricity from a substation that is 3.7 km from the pump station. Claassens expects this solution will take between three and four weeks to fully implement.

Sibanye and the authority had considered the possibility of installing a generator, but this was considered unviable as the size of generator required would not be readily available and would be costly.

The water table is currently at about 8 600 mm below surface, rising at an average of 100 mm/day.

It is expected that by the time the pump station is put back in operation the water level will have risen by about 2 100 mm, translating to a water level of about 5 860 mm below surface.

“This would still be within the safe margins. However, with the water table rising, there is a risk of limited seepage of acid mine water into the wetland area downstream of the abstraction point due to the pumps located in the wetland also being impacted by the power outage.

“We continue to strictly monitor the water levels during this time and will implement all possible measures necessary to prevent decant of AMD into the environment,” said Claassens.

Source Article from https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/tcta-comes-up-with-power-alternative-amid-war-zone-at-mintails-plant-2019-06-06
TCTA comes up with power alternative amid ‘war zone’ at Mintails plant
https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/tcta-comes-up-with-power-alternative-amid-war-zone-at-mintails-plant-2019-06-06
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