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Water

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENTS

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes were conducted at the project development phase for both the LHM and KM in 2005 and 2006, respectively. EIAs were also undertaken at LHM for the Stage 3 and Stage 4 Expansion Projects in 2010 and 2012, respectively. All of the assessment processes involved extensive stakeholder consultation and the EIA reports were made available for public review and comment.

WATER

Water is critical across every aspect of the mine lifecycle and as such, sound water management is essential to maintaining operations. Paladin’s operations are located in very different environments which influences the water management approaches used at each site. LHM is located in a desert environment where natural surface water sources are scarce and evaporation is significantly higher than average rainfall. KM, in contrast, is located in a tropical climatic region with very high seasonal rainfall and a dry season.

Paladin applies a Water Use and Quality Standard at all of its operations to ensure efficient, safe and sustainable use of water and the protection of water resources and ecosystems around its sites. LHM and KM each have water management strategies in place and maintain whole of site water balances to ensure that the Company achieves its water usage, supply and resource protection objectives. A specific Care and Maintenance Water Management Strategy has been developed for the care and maintenance phase at KM. The KM Strategy focuses on reducing stored water in the water collection ponds on site to ensure sufficient capacity remains in the ponds to capture rainfall runoff from the mining and processing areas of disturbance. Water in the ponds is treated in an onsite water treatment plant to a quality suitable for discharge as per the licence criteria.

 

 

WATER ABSTRACTION

The reuse and recycling of water is maximised as much as possible at Paladin’s operations. Some water is lost from the process circuit as water used to slurry tailings resulting in entrained water in the deposited tailings. Water is also lost due to evaporation, therefore, additional water is required to make up for the water loss.

Water for LHM is supplied by a combination of sources. New water is primarily from the Namibian Water Corporation (NamWater) (83% for the reporting period) sourced from a desalination plant and a smaller quantity of ground water from a local borefield (17% for the reporting period). Additional water is sometimes available from rainfall runoff captured in the mine pits during the occasional rain events that occur at LHM producing runoff, no runoff water was captured and used during this reporting period.  The remaining water required for the process is recovered supernatant water from the Tailings Storage Facility (TSF).

The licence limit for abstraction from the local borefield is 500,000 m3 per year. The total abstraction from the borefield during the reporting period was 322,000 m3, equating to 64.4% of the yearly allowance. Water recycling at LHM involves using water returned from the TSF, recovery wells and interception trenches, and the treated effluent from the sewage treatment plant. The percentage of water recycled and used in the process during the reporting period increased from 52.3% to 55.08% of total plant demand. The volume recycled equates to 122.62% of the total water withdrawn [11].

The estimated volumes of water withdrawn for the various sources of water supply are shown in Table 3. Total plant demand and the volumes of new and recycled water are presented in Table 4. No processing of ore was conducted at KM during the reporting period. The surface water abstracted at KM was used for the dilution of the treated water prior to discharge.

Table 3: Total Water Withdrawal by Source (ML/year)

Source 

LHM

KM

2015/2016

2014/2015

2015/2016

2014/2015

Surface Water

0

0

94

373

Ground Water

322

190

0

0

Rainwater[12]

0

0

2013

1,276

Waste Water

0

0

0

0

Municipal Water Supplies

1,526

1,389

0

0

Total Water Withdrawn

1,848

1,579

2,107

1,649

 

Table 4: Total Plant Water Demand and Recycled (ML/year)

Source

LHM

KM

2015/2016

2014/2015

2015/2016

2014/2015

Total Plant Demand

4,114

3,311

20

35

Total New Water Plant Demand

1,848

1,579

0

35

Total Recycled Water

418

1,732

20

0

% Recycled of Total Plant Demand

55%

52%

0%

0%

% Recycled Compared to Total Water Withdrawn[13]

122.6%

109.7%

0%

0%

 

OPERATIONAL IMPACTS ON WATER QUALITY

During the reporting period, no water bodies or associated ecosystems were significantly affected by the abstraction of ground or surface water at Paladin’s operational sites. The volume of groundwater abstracted at LHM and surface water abstracted at KM as shown in Table 3 were well below the licenced limits, which are allocated with consideration of the volume able to be abstracted without causing impacts on the environment.

A comprehensive surface and groundwater monitoring programme is undertaken at both LHM and KM. Water level measurements, water extraction and sampling are routinely recorded and collected according to a monitoring schedule designed to meet regulatory requirements. Data are regularly assessed to identify any impacts of the operations on local water resources and to ensure licence limits are not exceeded. All water monitoring data are stored in a centralised database and collated in annual water reports that consolidate and summarise the key water aspects across all of Paladin’s operations.

Local communities and ecosystems have the potential to be affected by the discharge of water. At LHM no water was discharged to the environment. Some treated water was discharged at KM during the reporting period. Monitoring has shown that there were no significant impacts as a result of the discharge of treated water to the receiving water body (Sere River) at KM.

During operations at KM, rainfall run-off water captured in the ponds was used in processing of uranium ore. The use of water for processing ceased once the mine was placed on care and maintenance, therefore the onsite water inventory is required to be reduced to allow sufficient capacity in the ponds, for a 1:100 year 24 hour rainfall event, to avoid overflow and unplanned discharge during the rainfall season. The water in the ponds is treated prior to being control discharged. A section of the KM processing plant was modified to be used as a water treatment plant where contaminates are removed from the onsite stored water. The treated water is diluted with abstracted river water to meet the licensed discharge criteria prior to discharge to the local river system.

The licence to discharge treated on site water was issued to PAL by the Government of Malawi in October 2014 with conditions regulating specific water quality parameters, including the World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water guideline for uranium concentrations. Comprehensive monitoring of the treated water being discharged and the water quality in the local river systems is being undertaken at the discharge location and upstream and downstream from KM by both PAL and the Government of Malawi. The monitoring results are shared between the Company and the Government.

Water treatment at KM involves a lime and barium chloride process to remove metals and radium followed by solid/liquid separation, neutralisation of the water and filtration to control the suspended sold content. Treated water is required to be diluted by up to two times with local river water prior to discharge to meet discharge criteria. The dilution water is abstracted from local rivers and is injected into the treated water discharge pipeline. The treated water is not used by any other organisation.

The volume of water discharged for the reporting period is shown in Table 5, no discharge was required at KM for previous years whilst operating. The average quality of the treated water discharged compared to the licence discharge criteria is shown in Table 6.  

Table 5: Total Planned and Unplanned Discharges (ML/year)

Source

LH

KM

2015/2016

2014/2015

2015/2016

2014/2015

Total Planned Discharge

0

0

1,349

311

Total Unplanned Discharge

0

0

40

0

Total Discharge

0

0

1,389

311

Destination

NA

NA

Sere River/ Fresh Water Pond

Sere River

 

Table 6: Planned Discharge Water Quality at KM

 

pH units

Uranium mg/L

Sulfate mg/L

TSS mg/L

COD mg/L

DO mg/L

Licence Discharge Criteria

6.5-9

<0.03

<800

<30

<60

>5

Average Discharge Water Quality (April to June 2015)

8.39

0.0115

-*

4.84

4.37

10.32

 

TSS: Total suspended solids

COD: Chemical Oxygen Demand

DO: Dissolved Oxygen

*: Waiver for sulphate limit for the reporting period

 


[11] Calculation as required by EN10 in the GRI G4.
[12] Rainfall is captured and included in the total water withdrawn as per GRI requirements but not all used in the plant.
[13] Calculation as required by EN10 in the GRI G4.

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