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Drought Forces Water Restrictions on Platinum Mines

platinum wedding ringsPlatinum mines including those operated by Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin around the South African mining city of Rustenburg have been asked to cut their water use because of a drought, according to media reports.

Premier Thandi Modise last month declared a drought across the entire North West Province, where Rustenburg is located.

On Friday, the Department of Water Affairs said mining operations in the area had been asked to reduce water consumption.

Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin are the world’s three largest platinum producers and all have mines in the area, Reuters reports.

Some companies such as Anglo American Platinum, the world’s largest platinum producer, have been asked to halve their water use, while second-largest Impala Platinum was asked to cut fresh water use by 10 percent, spokesman Johan Theron told Bloomberg.

The platinum producers say the water restrictions have not yet hurt their operations.

South Africa’s platinum producing area accounts for about 75 percent of global supplies of the precious metal, Reuters reports. Jonathan Butler, an analyst at Mitsubishi, tells the news agency that the water cuts are “potentially important” because mines are heavy water users in this arid part of the world.

A recent edition of EL Analysts says innovations and cost reductions in cleantech hold promise for making mining more profitable, safer and better for the planet. The report, by Kachan & Co., touches on methods of reducing water consumption, among other resource efficiency and energy trends.

Nine urban areas in the US are under “exceptional drought” conditions, according to data released in August month by the US Drought Monitor, and may experience widespread crop damages, even more severe water restrictions, and water emergencies in coming months.

Photo Credit: Platinum wedding rings via Shutterstock

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