Hon. Sherry Ayitey listening to details on the treatment process during the tour. Looking on are officials of the ministry, EPA and Gold Fields Ghana.
The outgoing Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Honourable Sherry Ayitey paid a working visit to Gold Fields Ghana’s Tarkwa mine on Thursday 31 January 2013 to inspect the newly constructed water treatment plant.
The Minister was accompanied on her site visit by the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr Daniel Amlalo and the Director for Mining at the Agency, Mr Ransford Sakyi. Also included in her entourage were officials of the Ministry including the Acting Chief Director, Head of Public Affairs and technical officers of the EPA at the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipal office.
The Minister and her entourage were given a brief presentation on the water treatment project after which they conducted a tour of the recently completed and commissioned water treatment plant at the North Heap Leach facility. Metallurgy Projects Manager, Casper Dzemoku explained each step of the water treatment process to the minister and her team. Also present were members of the management team of Gold Fields Ghana, including Pierre Coussey, Country Manager, George Nutor, Acting General Manager of the Tarkwa Mine and Hans de Beer, Engineering Manager, Tarkwa Mine amongst others.
In August 2012, Gold Fields commissioned the construction of two water treatment plants at its Tarkwa mine following the directive from the EPA, which shut down the North and South Heap Leach facilities at the mine for two weeks in July 2012 to reduce the water’s conductivity level before discharging. Though the Tarkwa mine was operating within prescribed requirements, in line with its commitment to implement environmental best practices and world class environmental stewardship, the company commissioned the construction of the plants.
The water treatment plant at the North Heap Leach facility, which was constructed at a cost of US$29.6 million, was completed and commissioned by the end of 2012 and is fully operational. The plant has the capacity to treat over 1000 cubic metres of water at a time.
During the tour, Casper Dzemoku outlined the various stages that the water undergoes during treatment, including clarification, two steps of filtration and reverse osmosis which reduces the conductivity level to less than 400µs. Water to be discharged is cleaner than bottled water. He further explained that Gold Fields Ghana has initiated project studies to extract minerals from the brine which can be used as the base for the production of commercial products such as explosives and fertilizer.
The second treatment plant at the South Heap Leach facility is still under construction and will be completed in a few months. Vice President of Operations, Alfred Baku stated that although Gold Fields Ghana was bringing its operations at the south mine to a close, the company took the decision to continue with the construction of the water treatment plant at this facility. Once the operations is shut down the plant will serve as a backup for the treatment plant at the north heap leach facility.
Honourable Sherry Ayitey congratulated Gold Fields Ghana and conveyed her satisfaction with the work that the company has done on the water treatment plant and looked forward to the completion of work on the second treatment facility. She further stated that she was happy with the relationship that has been established between Gold Fields Ghana and the Ministry as well as the EPA. She urged Gold Fields to continue working with the EPA to whilst it operated to ensure that the environment was protected as well.
Pierre Coussey, who welcomed the Minister and her team to the Tarkwa Mine, explained that Gold Fields Ghana continues to have fruitful interactions with the EPA both at the local office in Tarkwa and the head office but expressed the desire for such interactions to increase. He stated that the company will capitalise on opportunities from the construction of the water treatment plants to impact positively on technology and the mining industry.