The Minerals Council South Africa has developed a user-friendly water conservation and water demand management (WC/WDM) tool for the mining sector.
The WC/WDM self-assessment reporting tool (WSART) can be used by the mining industry to conduct a self-assessment of the implementation of WC/WDM on the mine site.
The use of the tool, while voluntary, is encouraged by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the Minerals Council to assist the mining sector in the implementation of WC/WDM principles, which are critical to ensuring sustainable water supply in water scarce South Africa.
The key purpose of the tool is to simplify the implementation of the department’s recently published WC/WDM guidelines, as well as allow for consistent reporting of WC/WDM plans and ensure consistency with the approach of conducting water balances and the calculation of WC/WDM.
The tool enables users to develop a site-specific WC/WDM strategy based on the potential to improve water use efficiency for their site, as well as deliver a list of user-populated management actions, capturing the budget allocated, the timelines and the yearly targets for each action.
The yearly water-use efficiency targets and the actual progress of the WC/WDM plan are compared to indicate whether the mine’s initiatives undertaken are effective or insignificant, with water balance inputs, outputs and recycled streams reported by the WSART over five years.
“The mine personnel can gauge the amount of water coming into their site, the amount leaving and the amount being recycled over the period. This would indicate the impact of the WC/WDM plan as it is carried out,” the Minerals Council noted in its fact sheet for the tool.
In addition, the quality of the water used on the mine is categorised and the water quality category percentage is shown as a trend for the five-year WC/WDM.
The tool empowers the mine to become a responsible user of water and helps a mine to know, manage and improve their water management status.
“Through this tool the Minerals Council aims to demonstrate its leadership role in the development and implementation of environmental best practices as articulated in strategic goal four of the organisation’s strategic plan,” the Minerals Council concludes.