17 Jun 2021
Financing transaction to enhance water resources
A new financing transaction with the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) will not only help secure South Africa’s water resources, but also assist in the generation of sustainable power for Lesotho.
Investec was recently part of a R15bn funding initiative for TCTA, of which Investec provided a R1.65bn term facility over 15 years.
The funds will be deployed for the next phase of expansion of the Vaal River System Water Resources Development Projects (VRS), consisting of phase two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase 2 (LWHP-2) and the servicing of TCTA’s debt related to LHWP-1 and Acid Mine Drainage .
The LHWP is a long-standing joint venture between South Africa and Lesotho to augment water to the Vaal River system, from which Gauteng draws most of its water needs. Phase two will contribute to improving the level of assurance of water supply and provide a risk buffer during periods of drought. In addition to improving the availability of water, phase two also involves the implementation of a sustainable hydropower generation system to meet Lesotho’s electricity requirements.
An important aspect of the VRS is finding solutions to the problem of acid mine drainage, which threatens the water systems near old mines. Acid mine drainage is defined as the flow or seepage of polluted water from old mines. The water often contains heavy metals and radioactive particles that are a danger to the life of people, animals and plants, especially if allowed to enter rivers, dams and groundwater.
Because many of South Africa’s old mines are situated close to urban areas, such as in Gauteng, acid mine drainage represents a key threat to the environment and to health, if it is not tackled in good time.
TCTA has already completed a short-term intervention, aimed at reducing the concentration of metals in water seeping out of the old mines and at neutralising further acid mine drainage.
Andre Wepener, head of Power and Infrastructure Finance at Investec, says Investec’s involvement with TCTA goes back many years, having provided funding for its other projects in 2005, 2011 and 2018.
“Our facilities have helped TCTA to consolidate all elements of the VRS into one funding package, providing the flexibility and liquidity it requires,” he says.
Wepener says he is particularly pleased to have contributed towards tackling the problem of acid mine drainage. “The Investec Group is committed to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), of which one of our eight priority SDGs is clean water and sanitation,” he explains.
“Our commitment includes funding infrastructure that contributes to making safe and affordable drinking water available to all and ensuring that water is used efficiently,” he adds.