Following the July launch of water treatment technology for the treatment of acid mine drainage (AMD) and industrial hazardous wastewater in South Africa, Finland-based company Global EcoProcess Services Oy (Epse) has been granted funding by the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation for the business development and commercialisation of its solution in South Africa and the rest of the continent.
Epse has also applied to research and innovation programme the European Union H2020 to secure further financial support for the research and development and business development activity required to address the challenges of the South African mine water treatment sector.
A management team from Epse has also returned to South Africa to capitalise on further successful tests involving AMD water from local mines that verify and validate the Epse technology. The team is also pursuing discussions with several major international mining companies and technology providers for testing and piloting work in South Africa, including integrating Epse technology with other existing innovative mining water treatment solutions. Discussions with South African financial institutions are in progress on local funding opportunities.
With a local representative appointed, Epse intends to establish a South African legal entity in the next few months, which is tasked with providing investment, expertise and revitalisation to tackle the clean water shortage problem, exacerbated by mining and heavy industry.
A key aspect of the Epse water treatment technology is that it works by removing metal pollution in the water from mining and heavy industry. The end result is purified water and by-products in the form of raw materials, which result from permanently converting the soluble metals contained in hazardous waste into environmentally harmless insoluble metals. These metals can be used in production for several other applications and purposes.
Epse CEO and partner Lasse Musakka says that, with drought conditions forecast to persist in South Africa, it is a critical time for the country and the African continent.
He adds that the estimated €48-billion required in investment over the next ten years to modernise South Africa’s water and wastewater infrastructure makes a cost-effective recycling solution essential. “Our technology can help towards a sustainable and better future for South Africa.”
The process is based on the patented Epse chemical solution and the adjustment of pH levels. Key advantages are low operational costs and low investment in infrastructure in a one-stepprocessing solution.
Epse partner, head of international operations and board member Felix Fondem notes that the volume of wastewater from a single mine can be as much as 300 000 m3 a day. “This makes the recycling of wastewater critical.”
He says that, unlike other currently available water treatment technologies, the Epse solution removes metals completely and the precipitate is inert and insoluble. “Soluble precipitates of metals are a hazardous waste that must be stored in controlled landfill deposits, creating an increasing environmental risk globally, as well as high costs for mining and waste treatment companies.”
Although the Epse technology is designed to primarily address the array of metals contained in mining waste, it is also capable of substantially reducing concentrations of sulphates, alkalis and partially alkaline earth metals, which are a major concern where there is a need to purify water to a level that meets potable standards.
Epse is placing its main focus on the marketing of the water treatment technology in South Africa, but the company notes its July launch has also generated significant interest globally and is proving successful in other regions, with successful AMD treatment tests completed with North American mining companies. In addition, more pilot projects are due to take place soon.