North Mara Gold goes green

North Mara Gold goes green

  • Builds modern water treatment plants, a blessing to river Mara basin
  • 70,000 people to be connected to water services from the mine

By Deus Bugaywa

North Mara gold mine has embarked on an environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible water treatment system to sustain current and future generations.

As part of Barrick’s drive to eliminate the mine’s historical environmental issues to its subsidiary company, North Mara Gold Mine, a new water treatment plant and series of brine water treatment tanks have been built to treat effluent and upgrading tailings facility.

Treated water from the mine is the good news for the ecology along Mara and Tigithe rivers which are tributaries to Lake Victoria.

Mara River flows to Lake Victoria, crossing through Serengeti National Park in Tanzania,  it is the only reliable source of water for the largest overland migration in the world of 1.2 million wildebeest, and it sustains large populations of many other wildlife species.

The river sustains about a million people living in the river basin, many of whom depend directly on surface waters for their domestic water needs.

Investing in the water treatment plant enabled the mine to produce a positive clean and safe water balance which will be shared to four villages in Matongo ward.

George Machibya, North Mara Gold Mine Environment Officer, told the community and village leaders from the surrounding villages who were on a water treatment study tour that the mine now uses reverse osmosis technology to treat water which is 99.9 percent efficient.

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North Mara Environment officer, George Machibya explains to village leaders how water is handled from the Tailing Storage Facility to treatment plant.

He said at the beginning there was only one low recovery plant, which was not that efficient and so brine water had to be kept at the Tailing Storage Facility (TSF).

“After Barrick took over operations from Acacia in 2019,  it was decided to build a state of art water treatment plant, the one we see here,  after being treated here water becomes clean like any other soft water, and so there is no need returning it to TSF” he said.

Machimbya added that after treatment water is pumped to Ingwe dam, “At this point water is clean, because we have positive water balance we applied for authorization from the government to return the water to Mara and Tigithe rivers, other water is sent to processing plants and to the dechlorination plant where water is made clean and safe for human consumption.

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Ingwe Dam, which receives treated water water from treatment plant, from here water is discharged to Mara and Tigithe rivers.

This will be the source of water to the Matongo Water Project worth one bilion Tanzanian shillings funded by North Mara Gold mine. 

A 300,000 liters tank is under construction at Mjini Kati village, which on completion the project will benefit 70,000 people from four villages of Matongo, Mjini kati, Nyangoto and Nyabichune in Matongo ward, Tarime districts.

In the effort to enhance confidence in the hosting community and build mutual relationships, village and community leaders now form part of the team that observe the water testing exercise done together by Lake Victoria Basin Water Board  (LVBWB) and the mine after every three months to test water quality.

The  LVB9WB water officer, Mwita Mataru told the village leaders that the testing is done according to the water resources act, which provides that water should be tested for status and quality quarterly.

“We have been doing this but there was a gap, you were missing, so it was decided when we are taking water sample for testing especially in water sources outside the mine you should be part of the excise, that is why you are here, we can take you through the whole process so you can understand what is happening,”  he said.

During the June community engagement water management system tour to observe how water from the mine is treated and become safe for human consumption,  Zakayo Makorobero, Community Engagement Manager said North Mara has made huge investment on water treatment plants in order to enhance a positive relationship with environs and the hosting community.

Read also; Kigali Water gets $60m for new treatment plant

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North Mara Gold Mine water treatment plant 

” As you have observed yourselves, North Mara Gold Mine is committed to see to it that we operate in the best acceptable international environmental standards,” he told the visiting village and community leaders.

The leaders who were taken through the whole water treatment process commended North Mara for the initiative they have taken to ensure water used in mining process does not harm  people and environment but more importantly are recycled to turn them clean and safe for human  consumption.

“We had a perception that all water from the mine are poisonous,  they say seeing is believing now that we have seen how water is treated, I can be a good ambassador to my people about the new turn the mine have taken,’ says Nyagoto Community leader, Simon Augustine.

He adds that after witnessing the treated water is also used by mine workers in their residential camp within the mine, he belives the mine has a solution for the water problem in Tarime district council.

“We have water problem here, if you say you have a positive water balance and take it to Mara and Tigithe rivers, then you should consider  distuributing throughout the Tarime District Council, ” he says.

On his side Musa Raphael,  Komarera Village Executive Officer asked the mine to extend the Matongo water project to all eleven villages surrounding the mine.

“You could even cover the whole district council, the water can meet that demand,” he said, adding that the water treatment is a sign of insurance that there were be no more water issues for the mine.

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