Drinking or irrigation water is a shared value opportunity for the extractives sectors. Anglo American’s eMalahleni Water Reclamation Plant in the Mpumalanga Province in South Africa is one example. Anglo American operates several coal mining projects in the Province. One of the consequences of coal mining is acid mine drainage, or runoff of acidic waters from mines. If not managed carefully, the runoff can contaminate aquifers and river systems, and companies must comply with stringent regulations for treating it in South Africa. These regulations extend in perpetuity, beyond a mine’s productive life. Anglo American’s underground coal workings hold around 140 million cubic meters of water that require treatment.
Because the Mpumalanga Province and eMalahleni in particular face severe drinking water shortages, Anglo American saw an opportunity to use a byproduct from its production processes to deliver social and business value. The company decided to treat its water to drinking water standards and make the water available to the local municipality. With the plant now operational, Anglo American is able to meet 12 percent of the municipality’s daily water requirements, generating 25-30 million liters per day.
Anglo’s success has also allowed the company to sell water treatment services to BHP Billiton, which owns a closed coal mine in the area whose acid mine drainage requires similar treatment. The additional revenue generated through the agreement with BHP Billiton plus the revenues from the sale of water to the local municipality offset 60 percent of the cost of operating the plant. By incorporating a societal component into its business planning, Anglo American has reduced the cost of responsible environmental management and compliance with regulation and delivered meaningful benefits to society.
 Anglo American n.d.; Anglo American FSG eMalahleni Water Reclamation Plant Site Visit. October 25, 2013.
Access to potable water in local community
Treatment costs are offset by revenues from water sale