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Anglo American waste into homes


Use waste materials to provide houses for local people.


Mining activities generate large amounts of waste, including water used in processing and washed-out materials. Anglo American were operating a mining water reclamation plant in an area of South Africa with a shortage of jobs and housing. The plant in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga province purifies waste water from five mines and turns it into drinking water for local people. However, this process generates 200 tonnes of gypsum waste a day.


The plant is the first of its kind in the mining industry. It recovers 99.5% of its water and provides 80,000 people with drinking water, meeting 20% of their daily needs and those of the five mines. Non-mineral mining waste typically is landfilled, however Anglo American took the gypsum waste and made it into bricks to build homes. This material is sufficient to provide up to 7,000 homes each year and enable workers moving away from mine villages to buy affordable homes.

Anglo American’s Zimele Communities Fund helped set up enterprises to manufacture bricks and build the homes. The production process is the same as standard brick-making but half the sand or cement is replaced with gypsum.

Anglo American has the aim of making the plant zero waste, and run as a social enterprise meeting local needs for water and construction materials.


Cheaper housing
Gypsum bricks enable three tonnes less CO₂ per house built

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