BY MARTIN PLAUT
BY MARTIN PLAUT
Johannesburg – the city of gold – is facing a pollution crisis that could threaten its very existence.
South African officials report that in late 2013 the water on which the city depends will become contaminated, unless immediate measures are taken. It is a threat, warned Professor Terence S. McCarthy, of the School of Geosciences, at University of the Witwatersrand, that could affect the Orange and Limpopo river systems.
Wetsgehoorsaamheid is baie laag op die prioriteitslys van sommige myne, veral die wat in sensitiewe gebied werk. Mense en die omgewing ly daaronder omdat hul water meestal “gevat” word vir die bedrywighede, waaruit net ‘n paar mense wins maak.
More than two years since government started to care about acid mine drainage, it has been working with key stakeholders to address the ugly sludge of an issue. The response, however, has only scratched the surface while creating other problems, such as putting the river systems at enormous risk. Though the issue might be water and how long we can use it for, the solution is money and a plan.
Allegations that former convicts Kenny Kunene and Gayton McKenzie defrauded poor Sowetan communities by persuading them to participate in a mining rights application for Central Rand Gold in Johannesburg are being investigated.
However, there is widespread confusion over the status of the police investigation.
Acid mine water that is expected to flow into the Vaal River from next year must be fully treated by the end of 2014 to prevent water shortages - but the building of treatment plants is yet to start.
The environmental risks and hazards associated with acid mine drainage (AMD) and radioactivity within South Africa' Witwatersrand goldfields are issues that need to be tackled more seriously, despite current initiatives by government, reports environmental protection group Federation for a Sustainable Environment CEO Mariette Liefferink.
The Department of Water Affairs says it is committed to solving the country's acid mine water crisis. Farmers in Mpumalanga have issued a warning that polluted water could lead to food shortages. Now an upgraded treatment plant is to be opened in Gauteng but the government concedes more needs to be done.
The short-term plan to treat acid mine drainage could be expanded to include the removal of sulphate salts, because dangerously high levels of the chemical could be released into rivers.
This document provides an account of the key institutions, processes and funding mechanisms aimed at ensuring sustainable mining in South Africa.
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