Northam operations are located within sensitive freshwater resource management areas where the demand for water is high. The Groot-Dwars River system runs through the area of our Booysendal operations and is a freshwater priority area that lies within the greater Oliphants Water Management Area. Both Zondereinde and Eland fall within the Limpopo Water Management Area.

Zondereinde operations rely on hydropower to drive underground mining equipment and assist with cooling. The site takes potable water from the Magalies Water Board but operates a virtually closed-loop water system, which keeps withdrawals to a minimum.

Booysendal’s operations receive bulk water from the Olifants River, which is managed by the Lebalelo Water User Association. The Association is evolving its approach to a more expansive, ‘landscape-level’ water management system covering a much larger geographical area.

Our Eland mine is a water positive operation with an agreement in place with the Hartbeespoort Irrigation Scheme for bulk water to supplement Eland’s water requirements.

At all our operations, we aim to minimise our reliance on potable and bulk water supply from external sources through water optimisation and recycling initiatives. At some of our operations water withdrawals include the abstraction from boreholes and fissure water. Fissure water has to be abstracted to ensure safe underground working.

Community water supply

In addition to meeting its own operational water needs, Northam also invests in water supply and sanitation projects for local communities through its community investment programmes and social and labour plans (SLP). Fissure water has to be abstracted to ensure safe underground working.

Engagement on water related issues

Northam participates in various regional water forums that aim to improve water conservation and management. Other participants include the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation, mining companies, and other water users. We are also members of and engage with local water boards and associations where we operate: Lebalelo Water User Association at Booysendal; Hartbeespoort Irrigation Scheme at Eland; and, Magalies Water Board at Zondereinde.

Water resource protection

Effectively managing and controlling storm water, wastewater and tailings is essential for the protection of surface water and ground water around our operations. Storm water controls at our operations ensure that clean and dirty water circuits are kept separate, and that contaminated water is contained. Even though our IWULs allow for the discharges of certain volumes and quality of wastewater we aim for zero discharges to our environment.

Water resource protection projects under construction at Zondereinde include storm water control infrastructure for the concentrator and smelter. At Booysendal, we have constructed a water separation system using trenching and culverts to contain polluted water and divert clean water away from our operations. The construction of additional stormwater containment facilities will continue in F2023. Eland is planning the construction of an additional stormwater control dam in FY2023.

Monitoring and measuring water quality

Water quality monitoring is in place at each of our operations, as required by their individual IWULs. Surface and groundwater sampling is undertaken by independent service providers and analysed in accredited laboratories. Annual monitoring reports are submitted to the DWS together with IWUL compliance assessments undertaken by independent consultants.

Zondereinde operations
rely on hydropower
to drive underground
mining equipment [photo]