South Africa Plans Water Pipeline to Supply Northern Coal Mines

South Africa will begin building a 70-kilometer (44-mile) pipeline this year to supply water from a reservoir in the north to local coal mines, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said.

The De Hoop Dam in Limpopo Province is almost complete and water storage has begun, the minister said today in Cape Town. Work on a separate pipeline that will supply other parts of the province is under way with first deliveries expected by July, she said. The minister gave no cost estimate, spokesman Sputnik Rantau said by phone from Cape Town.

The mines are in the Waterberg area, which contains about 75 billion metric tons of coal, or 40 percent of South Africa’s resources, according to state power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. Coal producers including Exxaro Resources Ltd. say lack of water is the main hurdle for mining in the region.

“Once complete, our government would have invested in excess of 4.5 billion rand ($471 million) on the project, which will benefit more than 2 million people,” Molewa said. The reservoir will have a gross capacity of 347 million cubic meters (12.3 billion cubic feet), the dam’s website shows.

Molewa also said work to raise the Hazelmere Dam in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal Province will begin before year-end, permitting supplies to a new industrial park north of Durban and more households. Progress has been made on construction of the Spring Groves Dam, which will supply other towns in the province, she said.

About 95 percent of South African households now have potable water, up from 62 percent when apartheid ended in 1994, government statistics show.

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