To provide a multi-disciplinary forum for the advancement of cost-effective and environmentally acceptable water management in the South African Mining and Metallurgical industry.
The Mine Water Division was formed to cover the area of mine water, including management, treatment, reuse, conservation and the impact on the mining and general environment.
The main objectives of the Division are the following:
- Exchange of information.
- Encouraging co-operation between the Division and other groups with an interest in mine water.
- Engendering in mine management a pro-active approach to mine water problems and challenges.
- Identifying information, technology, research, development and implementation needs.
- The activities of the Division include:
- Organisation and hosting of affordable high-quality technical conferences.
- Allocation of awards to best student papers at conferences.
- Provision of forum for all mine water stakeholders to engage with each other.
- Promotion of tertiary education in mine water management.
- Promotion of training in mine water management disciplines.
It may surprise some people to learn that the informal structure of the Mine Water division actually predates WISA itself. Back in late 1985, the then Southern African Branch of the Institute of Water Pollution Control became concerned that it was perceived by many people as being a “dirty water” Institute, whereas its interests were expanding to cover the full spectrum of water and waste water problems. The problem was discussed by the Institute Council and it was agreed that the Institute identify specialist areas and examine methods of broadening the scope of activities in these fields. It was decided to begin with one specific area and the field chosen was that of Mine Water. A working group committee was set up under the chairmanship of John Abbott who at that time was a member of the faculty of Civil Engineering at Wits. Other members of the committee were Ian Pearson (CSIR), Johan Wagner (Wates & Wagner) and Danie Bosman (Anglo American Research Laboratories). The first meeting of this committee to which other interested parties from the various mining houses were invited was held at the Anglo American Research Laboratories on 28 January 1986.
The first event organised by this working group was a very successful Open Day at ERGO, the morning being taken up with papers presented in the Brakpan Town Hall and the afternoon a plant visit to ERGO. Following this event, a seminar on Mine Water was held at the then Chamber of Mines Research Organisation. During this period Ian Pearson conducted a successful training survey of the mining industry’s needs in the field of water.
By the end of 1987 the IWPC had become WISA and John Abbott had stood down to be replaced by Dr H N S Wiechers then heading up the Water Group at COMR
October 1988 saw an Open Day organised by the working group at Kloof Gold Mine. This was a very well attended event with papers covering water reclamation, disinfection, filtration and hydro-power. A visit was made to the Kloof water reclamation plant and upflow sand filtration units.
The next Open Day was hosted by Rustenburg Platinum Mine in June 1990 when the topic of the presentations was the removal of sulphate from mine waters. At the end of the session the meeting was addressed by Mr Pieter Odendaal, the President of WISA on the formation of a formal Mine Water Division of WISA. All in attendance at the Open Day were in favour of such a move.
The WISA Conference in May 1991 found the Mine Water Division contributing four papers concerning water in the mining industry.
Since then, the Mine Water Division has hosted many symposia on a wide range of topics related to water management issues within the Mining Industry.