Last year Ron Little, president of Ottawa-based Orezone Resources Inc., and 13-year-old Ryan Hreljac of Kemptville, Ont., launched a new program aimed at providing people in developing countries access to clean, fresh drinking water. Mining for Water challenged the global mining community to raise $1 million and drill 150 water wells in the developing world by either contributing financially to the foundation or directly undertaking water-related projects (www.miningforwater.com).
At the PDAC convention this year, the program recognized two companies for their efforts. Of the projects submitted, the most outstanding contribution from a senior company was made by Barrick Gold Corp. During construction of its Bulyanhulu gold mine in Tanzania, Barrick built a US$5.5-million pipeline from Lake Victoria and dedicated 40% of its capacity to local communities. The company also completed 18 shallow wells and a number of deep wells with a pipeline system to service nearby villages. Near its Tulawaka gold mine development in Tanzania, Barrick is in the process of completing five shallow wells and three deep boreholes. The total additional cost to Barrick of providing improved community access to clean, reliable sources of water was $2.8 million.
The most outstanding contribution from a small or intermediate size company was made by Glencairn Gold Corp., which is spending US$265,000 on community water supply projects. In 2004 Glencairn constructed a pipeline from a freshwater spring in the hills above its Bellavista gold mine in Costa Rica and connected it to the water system of the town of Miramar (pop. 5,000) at a total cost of $125,000. The pipeline replaced a number of springs that were contaminated due to farming and other human activities. Glencairn is also donating land containing another spring and will replace aging water tanks in Miramar at a total cost up to $100,000. At its Limon gold mine in Nicaragua, Glencairn is spending $40,000 on a water treatment facility that will also provide clean water to the town of Limon (pop. 5,000).
The Ryan’s Well Foundation is urging mining companies to determine the need for clean water and sanitation in areas near their drilling sites, and be pro-active in addressing these issues. The foundation (www.ryanswell.ca) is a not-for-profit organization led by Ryan Hreljac, who has been raising money to drill wells since he was six years old. Ryan’s Well has raised more than $800,000 and drilled 75 clean water wells in seven countries benefiting more than 100,000 people.