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Barrier Balls - Drought control for Mines in South Africa

Barrier Balls - Drought control for Mines in South Africa

Founded by Chilean company Exma, Barrier Balls could be the innovative drought control solution mining sites in South Africa have been waiting for.


Image taken from Google

What are Barrier Balls?

Barrier Balls are balls filled with water. They are made of high-density polyethylene and are 100% recyclable.

Their purpose is to protect tailing ponds, water desalination pools and process water pools from evaporation by creating a floating cover system.

Together, they cover 91% of the surface they are placed on. Consequently, creating a barrier that helps protect large masses of water from extreme heat and evaporation.

Reductions and Advantages

Additionally, by reducing the exposed surface and the passage of sunlight (photosynthesis) - Barrier Balls significantly reduce the loss of heat, the release of gas emissions and smells, and the growth of algae.


  • Algae growth
  • Consumption of chemical products.
  • Release of volatile organic compounds.
  • Corrosive vapours.

Furthermore, by eliminating the water mirror (wildlife attraction) - pool contaminations and wildlife fatalities are reduced.


  • The installation is quick, easy and safe.
  • Installation can be done in full or empty pools.
  • Zero maintenance required.
  • Fluid level variations are automatically sorted.
  • Water freezing point is reduced to -10 ° C.
  • Operates in combination with aerators and mixers.
  • Equipment can navigate and circulate through liquid.
  • Solution is scalable.
  • Not affected by wind, powder, rain or snow.
  • By reducing heat losses - biological reactions are kept in cold weather.
  • Captures and accumulates rainwater - permeable floating coverage

Positive results have been seen by The National Copper Corporation of Chile (CODELCO), who claim to have improved algae control and wildlife protection while reducing evaporation, odour emissions and energy consumption. (linked to results)

Barrier Balls – The long-term solution

With an expected lifespan of 15-years, Barrier Balls could provide a long-term solution for not only the mining industry but for South Africa’s water crisis as a whole.

Unfortunately, desalination is not a long-term solution. Not only is it expensive, but it holds negative effects for both the environment and humans.

Unlike freshwater, seawater contains a chemical called Boron. During the desalination process, only 50 to 70% of Boron is removed – leaving a substantial amount of the chemical behind. Boron has been linked to reproductive problems and developmental problems in animals, as well as irritation of the human digestive track.

Additionally, by-products of desalination include coagulants, bisulphates, and chlorines. The amount of concentrated waste deposited back into the ocean following desalination is extremely destructive to marine life and environments – killing 3.4 billion fish and other marine organisms annually.

Furthermore, the process requires 14 times more energy consumption than groundwater protection, while emissions contribute to climate change - a leading factor of the droughts and water shortages the process is intended to mitigate.

VBKOM – Consulting Mining Engineers South Africa

Mining companies in South Africa need to move towards more innovative, eco-friendly methods of drought control.

VBKOM consulting engineers know how to successfully develop and optimise mining projects with drought management in mind.

Our mining consultants provide tailor-made mining engineering solutions for each unique challenge in our dynamic industry.

Contact us, for more information about our mining engineers and consulting services.

*Images are taken from Google



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