Living in the shadow of the old mine dumps, the dust is forever unsettling
Johannesburg sits atop the world's most productive gold reef -- a staggering 40,000 tons of the precious metal has been mined from it during a history tracing back 130 years. That legacy of riches has left behind a toxic inheritance: radioactivity from uranium hauled up in the mining process.
Scientists have found uranium quantities in rivers west of the city to be as much as 4,000 times natural levels and in tap water as much as 20 times higher. A soil sample taken by Bloomberg News and tested by government-certified WaterLab Ltd. from pumpkin roots grown a little more than a mile from a recently closed gold mine contained five times more uranium than background levels considered normal by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Die beleërde myngroep Mintails, wat goudherwinning uit ou mynhope aan die Wesrand doen en reeds vir langer as n week stil staan, het nou ook waarskuwings van die departement van waterwese ontvang.
Within days of Blyvoor Gold Mine's new owner taking over the mine, a mine sludge spillage polluted the environment with some of the toxic waste spilling into the Wonderfonteinspruit. Problems at Blyvoor started in August last year when the mine's previous owner, the company Village Main Reef, also known as Village, indicated that it will not take responsibility for the mine's losses anymore. In the meantime, DRDGold, the company which had owned Blyvoor before, also indicated that it does not want anything to do with the mine.
Pamodzi mine controversy drags on Aurora Empowerment Systems, whose board members included President Jacob Zuma's nephew Khulubuse Zuma, Nelson Mandela's grandson Zondwa Mandela and businessman Thulani Ngubane, was seen as the saviour of liquidated mining company Pamodzi Gold when it took over two of its mines in 2009.
Members of the controversial Bhana family – of liquidated airline Velvet Sky and Aurora mining notoriety – appear to have seized yet another questionable financial opportunity, this time involving an insolvent gold mining company on the West Rand.
Once again, however, it seems that the father-and-son team of Solly and Fazel Bhana have tried to keep their involvement under wraps.
The provisional winding up of the Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mining Company is of concern to the Federation for a Sustainable Environment for a number of reasons. Central to our concerns is the funds that have been made available for environmental rehabilitation in terms of s41 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002.
Blyvooruitzicht's residents have nowhere to turn while choking on dust from a slimes dam that belongs to the stricken gold mine.
A massive mine dump is rising like a new sand dune next to Blyvooruitzicht's main shopping centre outside Carletonville in western Gauteng. Its white and yellow layers are the waste from mining in the area, mining that built the town.
The 19th century gold rush that built Johannesburg left many abandoned mines in the city that still lure hundreds of people every day who enter them illegally searching for what little gold that remains.
The FSE is of the firm opinion that many persons and companies want to financially profit from the current situation. This is resulting in failure to holistically identify and manage the AMD impacts and challenges. The reason might partly be that the situation is a political problem as well.
"After the Mines" is a project by photographer Jason Larkin that explores the vast waste dumps created by Johannesburg’s gold mining industry.
After the Mines, published by Fourthwall Books, will be launched at Edition at 44 Stanley on Saturday, July 6 from 12pm. Ahead of the launch Mariette Liefferink and Jason Larkin have led a tour of the mining region.