Of the earth’s water resources, 97.5% is salt water with only 2.5% being fresh water. Approximately 99% of this fresh water is trapped in ice at the South Pole and other locations, meaning that the fresh water resources directly available for human use are incredibly limited. While developed nations are able to enjoy this scarce resource in abundance, other countries are unable to even develop sufficient wells. In this manner, there is great disparity in water resource availability by region, representing a serious issue. Moreover, future water shortages are projected to occur as the global population grows and the economies of developing countries expand. For this reason, realizing more effective use of water resources is a task of utmost importance for the entire world.
The Republic of South Africa is expected to suffer from substantial shortages in water for daily living as its economy and population grow going forward. At the same time, mining activity in this metal resource-rich country is rising together with resource prices, creating soil and ground water contamination issues.
Looking to address these issues, Marubeni supplied South Africa with mine drainage treatment plant facilities capable of returning mine drainage to a purity level that will allow it to be used for daily living. These facilities were supplied through an agreement with Rand Water, South Africa’s largest government-owned water utility. Previously, mine drainage in this country was discharged into rivers after removing harmful substances. However, by employing the reverse osmosis membrane technology and systems created by Toray Industries, Inc., to conduct secondary treatment of drainage, Marubeni made it possible for this waste product to be reused in people’s households.
This project will help improve the standard of living for people in South Africa on the grassroots level while at the same time making it easier for Japanese companies to develop new environmental-area business models in the future. In consideration of these benefits, the Japanese government provided Marubeni with Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects* to conduct this venture.
* Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects
This grant is awarded to local government organizations in developing countries, educational and medical institutions, and non-government organizations (NGOs) for conducting relatively small-scale projects in developing countries. Funding decisions are made by Japanese diplomatic agencies overseas that are well versed in the circumstances surrounding their host countries.
Mine Drainage Treatment in South Africa
Value for society
・Assisting 400,000 local residents ・Resolving water pollution issues
Value for Marubeni
・Creating and expanding business opportunities in the growth field of water treatment ・Improving track record with successful public-private coordination model