Debswana sustainable water management initiatives

In the face of increasing water stress and environmental impacts, Debswana is taking significant strides towards sustainable water management. The company’s approach is rooted in a commitment to minimizing water usage, promoting conservation, and addressing environmental impacts.

The Botswana natural capital accounting for the water sector has identified that mining and agriculture account for more than half of water abstractions from the environment. This realisation has led to a greater policy focus on these sectors. Debswana, recognising its role and responsibility, is demonstrating good water stewardship by formulating integrated, sound, and sustainable water management practices to maintain a competitive economic edge.

According to Debswana, research indicates that the impact of climate change is negatively affecting the availability of water resources in Botswana. If current water usage patterns continue, it is estimated that Botswana may become a highly water-stressed country by 2040.

“Debswana is acutely aware of the importance of water conservation and has been actively working on ways to reduce water use within its operations. The company is increasing water reuse, improving recycling efficiencies, and testing technologies that reduce water use in processing plants. Debswana has implemented several water management projects and initiatives that not only enhance sustainability but also align with their broader strategy for responsible water usage,” said Mothusi Makwape Debswana Principle Engineer, Engineering & Asset Management

One of the key initiatives is the increase in water reuse in the processing plants. This is achieved by doubling up the return of water from the slimes dam to the plants for reuse. This innovative approach significantly reduces the demand for fresh water, thereby contributing to water conservation.

In addition to this, Debswana has also embarked on recycling sewage effluent water. This recycled water is used for watering gardens and other mining process uses. This initiative not only reduces the demand for fresh water but also ensures that waste water is put to productive use.

The company is also continually improving the slimes thickening process to recover more water within processing plants. This is done through the adoption of advanced technologies such as Ultraseps and high rate thickeners in the processing plant. These technologies enhance the efficiency of water recovery, thereby reducing the overall water footprint of the mining operations.

Debswana is not only ensuring the sustainability of its operations but also contributing to the broader goal of water conservation. As the company continues to innovate and implement these water management projects, Debswana has become a benchmark for other mining companies to follow.


Storm Water Management

OLDM undertook a stormwater optimization study to primarily manage stormwater concerns during the rainy season. The operation continues to experience flooding during rainy seasons and consequently suffer disruptions to normal operations. The operation reviewed the adequacy of its current storm water/ surface water management facilities or infrastructure with an intent to manage flood risk events in future.

The storm water interventions were divided into different phases where Phase 1 includes interventions associated with the Orapa Mine, Phase 2 includes interventions associated with Letlhakane Mine, Phase 3 includes interventions associated with the Orapa Township and Phase 4 includes interventions associated with the Damtshaa Mine. The project is currently at planning phase for phase 1 implementation (AK1 storm water management).

Dry Fines Technology

The Dry Fines technology test work is being undertaken by Debswana as part of the long-term strategic ambitions to assisting in envisioning a greener future. The goal of the project is to investigate fine residue treatment technologies that would reduce the overall cost of disposal with consideration given to water retention, the potential for water reuse and reduced environmental impact for future fines residue containment structures. The project is currently at concept/ planning stage.

Debswana is aiming towards a 2030 target of a reduction of 50 % of freshwater withdrawal. Various initiatives have been identified at Debswana operations that could potentially result in a reduction of water usage.

The concept level water savings projects described above were commissioned to develop a robust list of opportunities focused on achieving the Sustainable Mining Plan (SMP) water reduction targets through modelling of water savings from their impact on freshwater abstraction once implemented. They are currently at various levels of implementation.

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