How to stay safe around mine water

How to stay safe around mine water

Mining plays a vital role in South Africa’s economy. Over the years mining has created jobs for many South Africans and we have managed to exports minerals to different parts of the world. However, even though the mining sector has been the backbone for South Africa with its resourceful benefits, there are many health risks involved when it comes to the mining industry.

These health risks don’t only apply to the mine workers but also for our environment and neighbouring communities.  Health risks such a lung disease, hearing damage, and physical hazard from whole body vibration affect mine workers daily.

Water is also affected by the mining industry. Mining causes water pollution such as heavy metal contamination, processing chemical solution, sedimentation and acid mine drainage. Not only is this a waste of precious water for millions of South Africans, but another problem is also that the water is that it travels into the communities water sources. Once that happens it affects the people who use the water sources and becomes wwastewater

Today, the water we have access to is harmful and some people aren’t able to drink or bath with the water. The agricultural sector also can’t use mine water. Below are helpful tips to make sure you and your employees stay safe when you’re around mine water.

Be knowledgable

It’s important that you’re aware of the conditions which you are working in. Daily checks should be implemented before and after you start working on the mine site. Being mindful of your surroundings and knowing what state the water around you is in will help you know what preventative methods you can take. Once you have preventative measures in place you will be able to prevent any health implications for your workers.

You should also check to see the tide changes, the water flow, water depth or flood risks. When you know the type of water you’re working in you can be prepared and know which treatment solutions you would need. With the rapid rise in technology, you can find different mine water treatment technologies which can assist your mine with its mine water issues.

Be protected

Make sure your equipment and vehicles are away from mine water. This is to make sure no equipment or employee falls into the mine water. Having an employee fall into mine water could lead to health issues, therefore, it’s important to have a barrier and a sign. Make sure that you have the correct signs warning people away, barriers around the mine water and edge protection so that people can know that this is a no go area.

Have a health care facility around in cases of emergencies. Make sure you have a first aid trainer should there be a worker who is in need of CPR. Your site will also need to have equipment that has an emergency window for cases where someone gets stuck. Lastly, have a chemical shower put in place for people who landed in the water.


Recycling mine water can be a long term treatment for a mine site. During the recycling processes, mines will remove the sulphates allowing both the industry and community to use the water. Once the water has been recycled, it can be used for drinking, washing and for agriculture.

This is also a good way for the mining industry to reduce the amount of water they use on a daily basis. Water is needed by people on a daily basis and with climate change and dams running low on water, it would be advisable that mines started implementing this long term treatment so that it can reduce the amount of water being used.

Implement water treatment processes

A mine water treatment plant is not only a good way to stay safe around mine water but it is also a great way to save water. Water pollution has become a big problem however there are acid mine drainage treatments in South Africa. This treatment system is a cost-effective way to ensure clean drinking water.

During the mining water and wastewater treatment, they will clarify and filter the feed to reduce suspended solids and heavy metal. Once that is done, the solids will be polished through a process called ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis will take place. Once all the other processes have concluded the water will be useable again.

Have a water management system

It’s vital to have a computer system that will help you monitor and manage your water usages as well as manage the effects of water on your mine. This will ensure that your mine is saving water and taking care of the environment. As mentioned before make sure you check the site before you start mining and afterwards to see what mining efforts took place. Once you know what effects have happened, you’re able to take care of the mine water before it affects society.

Authored by: mjones

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