New acid mine water process has huge agri potential in arid areas – by Martin Creamer ( – May 25, 2016)

KRUGERSDORP ( – The newly developed process that yields handsome profits by converting acid mine water into valuable fertiliser materials, also has the potential to process South Africa’s large volumes of currently unusable brackish groundwater.

The use of the process that eradicates acid mine drainage (AMD) for free can thus also be used to turn South Africa’s considerable sustainable groundwater areas in arid regions to positive agricultural account.

“We could turn South Africa into an agricultural Garden of Eden, quite quickly and quite easily,” Trailblazer Technologies director John Bewsey told Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video).

He said tens of thousands of hectares of high-value crops, including vegetables, flowers, nuts and fruit, could be the result. Particularly in the Northern Cape with its international runway at Upington, produce could be flown to Europe, backed by this innovative process that purifies water free of charge as it pays for its infrastructure establishment in three years through the sale of high-value potassium nitrate used in fertiliser.

Treating 15 megalitres of AMD a day yields 49 000 t of potassium nitrate, which retails at R15 000/t, and 24 000 t of ammonium sulphate, which sells at R3 000/t. “We’re left with useable water at no cost and the whole process turns in a very handsome profit,” said Bewsey, who envisages funders being attracted by the scheme’s 30% return on investment.

The director of the water-development business, which has a combined agricultural experience of more than 100 years, made the point that the implementation of the water conversion process could generate significant foreign exchange as well as create tens of thousands of jobs.

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