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The municipality of Emalahleni in Mpumalanga Province is situated in the Upper Olifants Catchment, which is under water stress and experiences water shortages. The Emalahleni Local Municipality has exceeded its allocated amount of water from the Witbank Dam and now requires another reliable source of high quality water to support municipal, commercial and industrial growth. As the designated Water Service Authority for the area, the Municipality is responsible for providing water to all local users. In view of this, the Municipality has joined hands with Anglo American’s coal operations and BHP Billiton’s Ingwe Collieries in the area to supplement its water supply through the proposed Emalahleni Water Reclamation Project.

Anglo American’s coal operations and Ingwe Collieries are committed to long-term water management and are working together on water reclamation schemes to benefit communities in which they operate. A first step in this process has been the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Emalahleni Local Municipality and Anglo Coal which captures the intention to jointly negotiate a water supply contract.

The project will involve the construction of three pipelines to convey water from the participating mines, Kleinkopje Colliery, Greenside Colliery and South Witbank Colliery to a central water storage facility, a water treatment plant and two reservoirs. It is proposed that high quality drinking water will be piped to the existing municipal water reservoirs for distribution. It is currently anticipated that the project will supplement the Municipality’s water requirements by an anticipated amount of 20 million litres per day - about 20% of the Municipality’s daily requirements.

“This collaboration is demonstrative of what can be achieved when corporations work together for the greater good of society”, said Lazarus Zim, Chief Executive of Anglo American South Africa. “Anglo American is committed to uplifting the communities where we operate”, he added.

"BHP Billiton is committed to the sustainability of the communities in which we operate and we are proud to take part in a project that addresses the need for high quality water. We believe this project will become an example of a public-private partnership which will address both short-term and long-term needs, as well as provide a platform for future development," said Dr Vincent Maphai, SA Chairman of BHP Billiton.

“A vision for collaboration between government and business has been realized in the form of the Emalahleni Water Reclamation Project which partners Emalahleni Local Municipality with Anglo American and BHP Billiton for the betterment of citizenry of Emalahleni,” said the Executive Mayor Glory Dhlamini.

An Environmental Impact Assessment was commissioned and a record of decision has been sought allowing construction to begin.  Construction is due to start later this year and water supply from the project is scheduled to be phased in from 2007.

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