he smelter plays a significant role in the economic landscape of KwaZulu-Natal, and availability and certainty of critical input variables such as water and power are vital for the its sustainability.
Speaking at the official opening of the desalination plant, South32 president for the Africa region Mike Fraser said, in recognising the issues created by drought in the area, the company investigated solutions to ensure consistent water supply to the operation was maintained while reducing reliance on municipal water.
“The desalination of seawater was identified as the preferred alternative as it will not only supply adequate water to ensure operations are maintained, it will also be able to supplement the municipal water supply in times of critical shortage.”
Construction of the plant commenced in April following approval from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs. It is the first desalination plant in the province.
The R74m desalination plant will remove minerals from seawater extracted from the Richards Bay harbour, enabling the globally diversified metals and mining company to maintain operations during a time of drought which has resulted in the implementation of stringent water restrictions in the Richards Bay domestic and industrial sectors.
The desalination plant was built within the Hillside Aluminium Smelter complex. During the construction of the plant there has not been any clearing of vegetation.