Exxaro builds eco-friendly homes in Lephalale

Diversified resources group Exxaro Resources Limited (Exxaro) is constructing almost 800 environmentally-friendly homes in Lephalale, Limpopo province, for use by employees required as part of the expansion of its Grootegeluk mine.

The Grootegeluk Medupi Expansion Project (GMEP) is a major Exxaro growth project to increase mine production and supply 14,6Mtpa of power station coal to Eskom’s Medupi power station in terms of a 40-year agreement.

“The construction of these homes cuts across all sustainable development arenas as it covers the social (mixed and affordable housing types), environment (reduced requirement for energy and water) and economic (skills training and small enterprise development) aspects,” said Ernst Venter, Exxaro’s executive general manager, business growth.

“We are spending R590 million to build the homes and opted to make them as eco-friendly as possible in light of the national drive for energy efficiency as well as Exxaro’s commitment to sustainability. The designs incorporate the efficient use of renewable energy such as solar powered geysers, solar architecture, evaporative cooling units and energy efficient appliances,” he added.

The environmentally-friendly credentials of the homes include being positioned to face north-east and between trees for improved temperature regulation and efficient lighting; solar powered geysers reduce electricity consumption, as does the installed insulation which regulates indoor temperatures; grey water which is not suitable for human consumption is recycled for use in toilets, gardens and for washing cars.

Other electricity reducing features include the provision of gas stoves and energy efficient air conditioning units.

Houses are also built with overhanging roofs to capture rain water which can be used for domestic applications. Waterwise gardens are installed to further reduce water use. These include regulated water systems and low water requirement plants.

“During the housing construction Exxaro made every effort to employ as many local contractors as possible and in this regard we are pleased that half of the 1 023 contractors are local people. Skills transfer was also a priority and about 100 local artisans received training in a range of construction disciplines,” said Venter.

“With construction of our housing project drawing to a close, we expect the skills acquired by local artisans to be put to use in other local developments as part of the ongoing development in Lephalale.

“Furthermore, in support of the ongoing sustainability of local economic development, we will assist the development of small enterprises that can service the future needs of the mine and town infrastructure,” said Venter.

Lephalale’s infrastructure development is coordinated by the Lephalale Development Forum represented by the local municipality, Exxaro, Eskom, Sasol, all levels of government and other local stakeholders. The forum’s focus is to develop a strategy and plans to ensure that the infrastructure in the region can adequately serve the rapid economic development in the region. Housing, education, health and welfare services, sport and recreation facilities are also being planned for.

To date Exxaro’s contributions to the development of Lephalale infrastructure include the construction of the houses, as well as the upgrade of the local Zeeland water treatment works which supplies most of the municipal region with potable water.

The capacity of the Zeeland water treatment works is currently being doubled at a capital cost of R100 million to supply 40 mega litres of potable water per day which is expected to meet the region’s needs into the foreseeable future. The upgrade started in April 2010 and will be completed by August 2011.

The treatment works draws water from the Mokolo Dam and is owned and operated by Exxaro on behalf of the municipality. The capital cost of the upgrade will be financed by the local municipality.

Editor’s Note:
Exxaro is a diversified resources group with interests in the coal, mineral sands, base metals, industrial minerals and iron ore commodities. www.exxaro.com

Ernst Venter
Executive general manager: business growth
Tel: + 27 12 307 4322
Mobile: +27 83 609 1313
Email: ernst.venter@exxaro.com

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