Home News Ekapa hard at work to help fix city’s water woes

Ekapa hard at work to help fix city’s water woes

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Sol Plaatje Municipality reported on Saturday that Ekapa Mining CEO Jahn Hohne, together with his team of 10 engineers, had joined in the repair and refurbishment efforts at the new Riverton Water Purification Plant. Hohne highlighted his company’s involvement in the operation in terms of the refurbishment and repair work that is being undertaken.

Ekapa Mining CEO Jahn Hohne. Picture: Screengrab, Sol Plaatje Municipality

SOL PLAATJE Municipality reported on Saturday – day three of the city-wide water shutdown – that Ekapa Mining chief executive officer (CEO) Jahn Hohne, together with his team of 10 engineers, had joined in the repair and refurbishment efforts at the new Riverton Water Purification Plant.

Speaking to municipal spokesperson Thabo Mothibi, Hohne highlighted his company’s involvement in the operation in terms of the refurbishment and repair work that is being undertaken.

Hohne said that several months previously, the municipal manager (MM) had approached Ekapa Mining in Kimberley to assist with advising the MM on a technical basis on the best practice to resolve the problems at the two water treatment plants at Riverton.

The Ekapa CEO explained that there is the old water treatment plant, built in the late 1940s, and a new water treatment plant, built in three sectors from the late 1960s up to 1980.

He said that following a visit to the plants, together with his team of specialist engineers from Ekapa’s mining operation, it was recognised that the six clarifiers on site “were absolutely inefficient in that they had been extremely poorly maintained and a lot of the mechanical equipment around them have totally failed”.

Hohne said that after a long discussion with the MM and his engineers, and Ekapa studying and doing a full due diligence on it, they believed that if they could get the six clarifiers working back to their design specification, it would “make a huge difference in the water volume and the water quality going to the residents in Kimberley”.

He said they presented a proposal, in terms of their responsibility as a local mining company, to register a community project and have committed R12 million towards upgrading the six clarifiers back to as close as possible to their original design capability and capacity.

Hohne said they arrived on site early on Friday morning with a team, including four very experienced engineers and backed up by another dozen engineers at Ekapa’s mining operation and two maintenance operations in Kimberley.

“Everybody has been rotating, working around the clock, removing parts and components and refurbishing them and rebuilding them to recommission within days,” said Hohne.

He said they were “horrified” to discover the amount of mud that had settled in the clarifiers.

“We were horrified when we pumped and let the water out of the clarifiers at the amount of mud that had settled and had been abandoned in them, making them actually useless. So we mobilised our specialised earth moving team … We’ve dropped a couple of Bobcats into the clarifiers and a big excavator and we are lifting this old congealed mud out of them.”

Hohne said he was “convinced” that once this was done in the next few days, and they get the scrapers back on the gantry booms of the clarifiers – back into their design shape capacity with the rubber scrapers on – the clarifiers “will then do the right job”.

“By them doing the right job, you will get so much less contamination in the water going to the sand bed filters of the main plant.”

Hohne said they will also be looking at the flocculent system, to make sure that the dosage rate is optimal.

“And also the chlorination system, to make sure that the clarifiers get their required dose of chlorine as well. Which they haven’t had for long periods of time and that is why the quality, generally, of water has gone backwards in Kimberley.

He said they will be putting “all their efforts into it” over the weekend, with Ekapa’s teams working closely with Sol Plaatje Municipality.

“I must say they (Sol Plaatje) have come to the party in terms of the workers, operators, management, new engineers and the new municipal manager himself, in orchestrating this significantly important weekend of grading the clarifiers back to full capacity, while they are working on the sand beds and valves.

“They are also working with contractors on repairing the horrendous leaks on the main pipeline into Kimberly.

“I was told this morning, with great excitement, that they are ahead of schedule on repairing the major leaks and that means that you could expect at least 20 to 30% more water into Kimberley than was possible in the last five to 10 years.

“Now with these clarifiers upgraded this weekend, the volume will increase and the quality. And we will stay supporting and assisting Sol Plaatje, as Ekapa Mining, until we achieve the right supply of water back into Kimberley for the residents, who deserve clean water and deserve an end to the nightly shutdowns of water.”

Hohne said they were “very proud to be part of this programme”.

“Our engineers are currently sandblasting and zinc-coating the scraper blades and poles to prevent further corrosion in the future.

“We’re going to refurbish these clarifiers, probably to an extent better than they were ever built in the first place, and that makes it a very exciting project.”

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