Aveng punts solution to acid mine drainage

Aveng, the listed construction and engineering group, has patented what it believes is a solution to acid mine drainage problems facing the country. Roger Jardine, Aveng's chief executive, said yesterday the water and power sectors were a strategic focus for the group and the in-house technology developed by the group's engineers enabled the recovery of water from mine effluent at 98 percent compared with the global benchmark of about 85 percent.

Jardine said the group's team was engaging the public sector around the issue of acid mine drainage and demonstrating that its technology could work. "We are ready to engage with the government and all players to provide a solution in this particular area," Jardine said. Jardine said the group's approach was to engage private sector clients and it was running a water treatment facility for Optimal Coal, which was commissioned earlier this year, and also doing one in eMalahleni, which indicated the progress made by the group with its water strategy in the financial year to June.

He said the group had identified about R3 billion in opportunities in the next 18 months to two years in the water sector and was zooming in on those areas. He said the group had also identified power as an area in which it wanted to develop a footprint and invested more than R10 million in research positions for the public-|private partnerships that would come out later this year or early next year. "Our focus is on wind and solar. We are hoping to play a role there and getting ready to participate," he said. Jardine said it was an extremely tough market in the financial year to June but the group had delivered a solid performance. Aveng yesterday reported a 7 percent decline in diluted headline earnings a share to R4.444. Revenue rose 1 percent to R34bn with the construction and engineering and opencast mining segments posting single-digit revenue growth.

Operating profit dropped by 2 percent to R2.08bn. Cash generated by operations grew by 7 percent to R3.2bn. The dividend was maintained at R1.45 a share. The group's two-year order book grew by 2 percent to R31.1bn. The group's board had approved a share repurchase programme of up to a maximum of R1bn because of its strong cash holdings. He said industry conditions were anticipated to remain relatively difficult but the group had identified a stable and healthy project opportunity pipeline of R102bn. "With a stable order book, healthy pipeline and multi-disciplinary capabilities, we are well positioned to compete successfully in a difficult market in the year ahead," Jardine said. Aveng's shares on the JSE rose 0.2 percent to R37.59 yesterday.

Business Report
Roy Cockayne