File image: IOL.
File image: IOL.

Water restrictions hit PGM belt

By Dineo Faku Time of article published Oct 28, 2019

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JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's platinum producers have been asked to reduce water usage, following restrictions that were implemented by the Rustenburg Municipality in the North West this month.

The water restrictions by the Rustenburg Municipality are an effort to prevent taps running dry, with water demand in the area outstripping supply. The scheduled restriction starts at 5pm every evening and continues until 5am.

The Rustenburg Municipality last week warned that the Rand Water Barnardsvlei system recorded only a 14percent water supply in the system.

It warned that if consumers, including industries and mines, feeding off the system did not substantially reduce consumption, the system may be completely depleted and no water would be supplied.

Jana Marais, the spokesperson for Anglo American Platinum, said the company was managing the impact of the water restrictions on the operations in Rustenburg. “We've also ramped up our efforts to cut non-essential water usage and wastage through continuous maintenance,” Marais said.

South Africa accounts for 80percent of the world's platinum production, and the North West province is home to the three biggest producers including Anglo American Platinum, Sibanye-Stillwater and Impala Platinum.

Sibanye-Stillwater spokesperson James Wellsted said the company was implementing additional plans to further reduce the use of potable water at its operations.

“As per the recent restrictions imposed by the Rustenburg municipality, the impact on production is likely to be insignificant in the near term for the rest of the year, but should the drought continue for an extended period or worsen, production from the South African platinum group metals (PGM) industry it is likely to be affected,” Wellsted said. Wellsted charged that the region around Rustenburg was relatively arid and water scarcity was not a new phenomenon for its operations in the region.

“As a result, the efficient usage and management of water have historically been a primary focus at our Rustenburg, Kroondal and Marikana operations,” he said.

David Magae, spokesperson for the North West Municipality, said the water restrictions were necessary due to the lack of rainfall that had resulted in the low levels of the Vaal River, the biggest water source.


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