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Unveiling the desalination plant at the Hillside Aluminum Smelter were VP Operations – Noel Pillay, VP Commercial – Paul Masia, President South32 Africa Region – Mike Fraser, MEC EDTEA – Sihle Zikalala, VP Corporate Services – Patience Mpofu and King Cetshwayo District Speaker- Cllr Khulani Radebe
SOUTH32 officially unveiled its R72-million water desalination plant at the Hillside Aluminum Smelter in Richards Bay on Thursday.
The project will relieve strain on the municipal water system by up to two million litres per day.
Realising the impact of the ongoing drought, South 32 earlier this year began investigating solutions that would ensure consistent water supply, essential for their operations, while reducing reliance on the municipal supply.
Speaking at the launch, President South32 Africa Region – Mike Fraser said it was an example of how sound relationships and the right partnerships resulted in a project that addressed the water issues and added value to the region.
‘The plant will remove minerals from seawater extracted from the Richards Bay harbour and enable the company to maintain operations during a terrible drought which has resulted in the implementation of stringent water restrictions in the Richards Bay domestic and industrial sectors since March.
‘The desalination of sea water was identified as the preferred alternative as it will provide a reliable water supply to the operations and relieve strain on the municipal system.
‘Availability and certainty of critical input variables such as water and power are key for the smelter’s sustainability.’
Trendsetters MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala commended the strides taken by South32 to address the current water crisis, dubbing them ‘innovation trendsetters’ in KZN.
‘This company is the first in the province to join many other countries who are working to address the water problems.
‘The reality is that as a province, if we could not harvest this technology we would have a serious water shortage by 2025.
‘Agriculture, commodities, our biodiversity and tourism are also being impacted by the drought. Water needs to be treated as a valued asset and must be preserved.
‘We applaud South32 for seeking alternative options to addressing the water shortage and also preventing the drought from threatening their operations.’