Ever Heard of Gunii Holoi?

That’s the name of a fossil groundwater aquifer near to the Oyu Tolgoi mining project with estimated resources of at least 6,8 billion cubic meters of water. The project’s environmental impact assessment’s section on water gives this estimate on page 55.

The mining operation will require massive amounts of water, and since there is none available on the surface, they plan to pump up the necessary water from this aquifer.

Interestingly, that water is not suitable for human consumption without treatment, since it is in a deep lying aquifer previously undiscovered and contains about 2,8 grams of salt per liter, which is about an order of magnitude less than sea water.

That of course means that if treated, the water would be suitable for drinking or greenhouse farming. The Sundrop Farms project in Southern Australia uses 10,000 liters of water a day, for producing 5,000 kilos of tomatoes a week. The Oyu Tolgoi project will use 696 liters each second, which means 60,134,400 liters a day. They might be able to spare 10,000 for a greenhouse project.

So there is a massive source of salt water which is one order of magnitude less salty than sea water right in the middle of the Gobi desert. That means, if Oyu Tolgoi is smart, they could ask Sundrop Farm to deliver a project right to their doorstep. That will clearly show more than anything else that the project does not diminish water resources, but increases them.

It would also mean that the people at Oyu Tolgoi could get top quality fresh tomatoes, without transporting them in at high cost.

Of course they could also just use the hybrid electricity generation and water treatment technology that Sundrop Farm uses to treat their own drinking water without the greenhouses (they will need some capacity for that anyway), and then build a couple of new herder water sources where they hand out some of their resource to the locals.


Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

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