About the Crystalactor
This first Crystalactor™ on African soil, softens high calcium underground dolomitic water to potable water standards (SANS 241) at the Sibanye Gold, Cooke 4 shaft located on the West Rand in Gauteng, South Africa. Watercare Mining owns/operates the water (softening) plant under a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model, the business case being to supply potable water at a lower cost to mine than the local water supplier: Rand Water. This project demonstrates a good business case for the Crystalactor with relatively low operating and maintenance (O&M) costs and short payback period for the plant.
Sibanye Gold is implementing projects which reduce the water consumed from the Rand Water network which is constrained by capacity in certain areas as a consequence of the prevailing drought. Project involves softening of underground dolomitic water to replace fresh water supply from Rand Water. Conventional softening methods like conventional lime softening or ion exchange produce a significant volume of sludge or brine which can create high operational costs. Variations in underground mine water quality as well as (minor) contamination is another potential challenge in treating dolomitic water up to a potable standard.
Royal HaskoningDHV Crystalactor softening technology forms the core of the process (low operational & management costs, low energy consumption) and has been proven capable to handle the variations in feed water quality. The plant has a capacity to treat/soften up to 5-6 Mℓ/day. As the Crystalactor produces water-free pellets instead of a bulky sludge or brine, the operational costs for sludge discharge are under control. Currently, the produced pellets are discharged to the tailings facility.
The plant was successfully started up in January 2016 and has been in production since February 2016. The current operation treats 3.7 Mℓ/day of mine water to potable/drinking water quality with a design capacity of 6 Mℓ/day. This water savings project makes more water available for surrounding communities by reducing demand on the local water reticulation network. Royal HaskoningDHV continues to provide operational and specialist support to the water (softening) plant.