In Botswana, WEC Projects, a South African company specializing in the provision of water and wastewater treatment solutions, will expand the capacity of the Karowe Diamond Mine's water treatment plant. The rehabilitated plant will provide water for irrigation and dust suppression.
The contract for the expansion of the Karowe Diamond Mine wastewater treatment plant, also known as Lucara, is awarded to WEC Projects. The Johannesburg, South Africa-based company will integrate a new system with the existing one. This additional wastewater treatment unit will have a nominal capacity of 50 m3 per day.
The Karowe Diamond Mine wastewater treatment plant is located near the hamlet of Letlhakane in the eastern Kalahari Basin. The plant commissioned in 2012 is currently capable of treating 100 m3 of effluent per day.
Water for irrigation and dust suppression
The expansion project will increase the plant’s capacity to 150 m3 per day. The treated wastewater will be reused for “applications such as irrigation and dust suppression by spraying the water droplets,” explains Wayne Taljaard, WEC Projects’ general manager. When it comes to dust in mines, many companies like ABCDust in Canada have testified to its hazardous nature, both to the health and safety of employees. It is said to be the cause of vision problems, nasal irritation and lung diseases. Dust in mines is also believed to accelerate wear and tear on pulleys and bearings, increasing the risk of accidents and the need for costly repairs and maintenance.
This project will also increase the resilience of Karowe mine employees to drought. In this part of the country, temperatures average 35°C. The extension of the Lucara water treatment plant will require an investment of $187,500, more than 2.2 million Botswana pulas. The mine will benefit from the project until 2040, although it is expected to cease open pit operations by 2026. After 2026, the mine will continue to operate underground, thereby extending its life.