Frost & Sullivan has recognized mining services company Fraser Alexander with its 2013 South Africa Frost & Sullivan Award for Technology Innovation, based on its ongoing analyses of methods of sustainable development in water treatment. The global consulting and market-development company said it presents this award annually to an enterprise that has demonstrated uniqueness in developing a technology that significantly impacts both the functionality and the customer value of new products and applications. 

According to Frost & Sullivan, Fraser Alexander’s shareholding in Mine Water Treatment Technologies (Miwatek) has opened up access to a recently developed, innovative acid mine drainage (AMD) and mine impacted water (MIW) treatment process—the Miwatek Process Technology.

The new product combines pre-treatment methodology with membrane technologies specifically suited for AMD and MIW treatment. These technologies, along with a targeted chemical modeling system, advance outputs in AMD and MIW treatment by significantly reducing sludge while producing by-products for reuse or sale. As the technology will assist end users in producing treated water that meets SANS 241 standards, it helps address South Africa's growing demand for potable water.

“By designing and building water treatment plants that treat water based on site-specific water analyses, the Miwatek Process Technology can produce end user-defined outputs of potable or discharge-quality water and by-products for reuse or sale, thereby minimizing hazardous waste streams and reducing costs,” said Frost & Sullivan industry analyst James Milne.

Although the Miwatek Process Technology is at the early stages of commercialization, initial reports point toward significant positive outcomes in terms of functionality. A key function of the technology is at the pre-treatment level, ensuring complete chemical reactions and a stable water feed to the first reverse osmosis membrane (RO) system.

“If Fraser Alexander successfully commercializes the technology as envisaged, it can significantly optimize the cost to clients in the areas of environmental rehabilitation and water usage,” Milne said. “It can do this by generating clean water for reuse, producing potable water for personal consumption and/or resale to water authorities, and the development of viable by-product extractions that can offset/limit costs.”

In the initial testing stages, approximately 95% of the water output after a two-stage RO process has been observed to be potable quality. A final critical benefit is the reduced energy consumption through the application of a low-pressure RO system at the first RO stage.

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