Converting mining challenges into opportunities
The mining industry accounts for about 20% of all investment in South Africa and generates R 441 billion in expenditure annually, of which R 407 billion is spent locally.Despite its importance, the mining industry is facing severe pressure on various fronts, including costs, environmental liability, and the lack of a cohesive strategy in terms of minerals demanded by the future green economy.
The Federation for a Sustainable Environment co-hosted the recent Nuclearisation of Africa Conference. The event brought together experts and interested parties on matters relating to nuclear energy, waste and mining of radio-active material.
Prof. Nidecker of Radiology, University of Basel, Switzerland. Past president and board member of PSR / IPPNW Switzerland is interviewed along with independent international consultant on energy and nuclear policy releases, Co-author of yearly world Nuclear Industry Status Report, Mycle Schneider. In this podcast they highlight topics and insights from the Symposium, "Nuclearisation of Africa".
Federation For a Sustainable Environment « Nuclearisation of Africa » Symposium 19. Nov 2015 There is a clear global downtrend in the civil use of nuclear power, as documented by the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report and as discussed at the international Symposium on « Nuclearisation of Africa » concluded on the 19th of November in Johannesburg.
Sheree Bega, a multi award winning journalist, of Saturday Star, South Africa’s leading weekend paper, wrote an excellent article titled “Nuclear waste ‘dangerous for millennia, even millions of years, cannot be shut off”. The article was published yesterday in the Saturday Star.
The FSE is today widely recognized as the most prominent of the environmental activist stakeholders in the mining industry - and its directors are listed as amongst the 100 most influential people in Africa’s Mining Industry (MiningMX 2012 & 2013 – “Rainmakers and Potstirrers”)
The contributions of the FSE to environmental and social justice have been recognised and its directors received a number of environmental awards since the FSE’s inauguration in 2007 inter alia
Mining is an important contributor to the SA economy hence it enjoys an elevated or preferential status based on perceived benefits.
Professor Tracy Bumbey states, "South Africa’s exceptional mineralization has been an enormously influential factor in the development of the country’s political and economic institutions and the laws that underpin them. In South Africa, however, the psychological dependence on the mining industry seems to extend beyond cost/benefit, a phenomenon evidenced in the metaphors used to describe the industry’s significance. In the 1961 case of Coupen Holdings v Germiston City Council, for instance, Judge Hiemstra wrote: “This industry is the lifeblood of the country and particular solicitude for it is only natural”.
"Adv. Johnny de Lange, the co-chair of the historic joint sitting of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Mineral Resources, and the Environment and Water respectively, spoke of mining as the “DNA” of the South African economy and its “whole development”, as an industry that played an “absolutely central role” during apartheid and in the democratic era ".
While the FSE recognises the importance of mining in South Africa, it is also sober to the fact that mining has the potential for significant negative impacts on the environment. As early as 1987, the US Environmental Protection Agency recognised that “.....problems related to mining waste may be rated as second only to global warming and stratospheric ozone depletion in terms of ecological risk. The release to the environment of mining waste can result in profound, generally irreversible destruction of ecosystems.”
The FSE therefore concurs with the statement in the recently developed National Development Programme, namely that while it is “urgent to stimulate mining investment and production” it should be done “in a way that is environmentally sound.” (Emphasis added.)
The challenge to ensure that mining is “environmentally sound” has become even more important since in a recent overview of the National Water Resource Strategy-2 (NWRS-2), Mr. Niel van Wyk of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) stated: “Large part of future potential [of mining is] in areas of water scarcity… in some areas water is already ‘flowing’ from agriculture to mining…the biggest impact of mines is on water quality …a threat to the resource that cannot be brushed away.”
According to the National Water Resource Strategy-2 (NWRS-2) 12 out of the 19 water management areas require intervention. By 2025 all four international river basins will transition into Absolute Water Scarcity with resultant economic stagnation and potential social decay (without taking into account global climate change). To exemplify:
With the Upper Vaal in deficit there would then be no possibility of transferring water into the Olifants catchment (currently possible through the VRESS) and economic- including mining activities in 6 provinces could be affected if water consumption is curtailed. The mining industry is already being constrained by shortages of water on the Eastern and Western Limbs of the Bushveld. The question needs to be asked - is it prepared to risk seriously curtailed production in the event of a drought by letting the Upper Vaal go into deficit?
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The Department of Water and Sanitation's existing treatment programme involving pumping acid mine drainage out of the Witwatersrand basin and then partially treating the water by neutralising it will not assist in alleviating the challenge in the long term, says the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) CEO Mariette Liefferink.
A coalition of civil society and community organisations, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), has instituted legal action in the Pretoria High Court against the Minister of Mineral Resources, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, following his grant of a coal mining right to Atha-Africa Ventures (AAV) inside the sensitive Mabola Protected Environment.
A symposium in Johannesburg from 16 to 19 November will address the nuclearisation of Africa. The 4-day event will focus on Uranium mining and health, environmental, legal and socio-economic issues. In addition one entire day will be devoted to to renewable energies.
Uranium mining can have detrimental effects on the health of the miners and their families. An interdisciplinary team of doctors and scientists will report on this and on efforts of the nuclear industry to promote the civilian use of nuclear power in Africa at a Symposium in Johannesburg, South Africa from 16th to 19th November 2015.
Addressing waste and pollution of the past
The Federation for a Sustainable Environment is proud to announce the launch of the booklet titled “Rehabilitation of Mine Contaminated Eco-Systems. A Contribution to a Just Transition to a Low Carbon Economy to Combat Unemployment and Climate Change” by Mariette Liefferink of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE). The booklet was commissioned by the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) in collaboration with the Friedrick Ebert Stiftung.
Byna 10 000 mense sal verskuif moet word as Anglo Operations Ltd en Canyon Coal hul sin kry om ’n massiewe oopgroefsteenkoolmyn oos van Springs te begin.
Johannesburg - A 19-month data investigation of mine closures indicates that since at least 2011 no large coal mines operating in South Africa have been granted closure.
Drie direkteure van die Blyvooruitzicht- en Village Main Reef-goudmyn buite Carletonville kan ’n boete van tot R10 miljoen of tien jaar tronkstraf opgelê word weens die beweerde besoedeling en agteruitgang van die omgewing.
Project to heal polluted river . System will·create stream·of jobs
THE POTENTIAL to create 100 climate jobs and to help : bring a "dead river system" back to life -that's the rationale behind a proposed pilot project to heal one of Gauteng's most heavily polluted river systems, the Tweelopiespruit, which has been contaminated by more than a century of mining.