Comment: Sibanye Gold Tailing Re-treatment Project

Written by  Tuesday, 05 May 2015 05:55
Rate this item
(0 votes)

The Federation for a Sustainable Environment's (FSE) position on the re-mining and consolidation of  poorly managed, poorly constructed and poorly monitored historical tailings storage facilities, which are significant sources of water and windblown dust pollution,  has been published in a number of academic papers, government reports and comments and response reports.

While the FSE is in support of the re-mining of historical tailings storage facilities and the reclamation of Au, U and sulphur and the consolidation of mine residue in a regional tailings storage facility, the FSE wishes to raise the following issues of concern and call upon the Applicant to address these [an extract from the document which is available to download in full]:

  • In the past dump reclamation activities, a number of cases have been identified where the re-mining of dumps was not completed, either due to a lack of funding on the part of the miner or due to the heterogeneity in the dumps which were mined. Any new application to exploit mine residues should only be approved if it involves the removal of an entire residue deposit and the rehabilitation of the remaining footprint. If this is not the case, rather than consolidating contaminated sites, the reprocessing activities result in the creation of two contaminated sites, where one previously existed.
  • The past practice of granting rights and authorization for the reprocessing of individual residue deposits may need to be reviewed insofar as it allows the selective extraction of value from portions of a site without ploughing some of that value back into the rehabilitation of the entire mining area. It must be accepted that the reprocessing of some mining residues will never be economically viable and that these will need to be transported to the regional tailings storage facility.
  • Radiometric surveys over previously reprocessed mine residue deposit footprints have, in some cases, shown elevated levels of residual radioactivity in soils. In these cases, it must be accepted that some areas will never be suitable for unrestricted development and that these areas will need to be demarcated as such, and appropriated land-uses proposed and implemented.
  • The latent impacts on biota, including humans, of bioaccumulation and exposure to elevated levels of metals and NORMs are established in the international scientific literature. The mining industry should have gained enough experience from the asbestosis and silicosis catastrophes in South Africa to justify application of precautionary principles in respect of other suspected latent impacts. We recommend that gold mining operations in South Africa adopt the precautionary approach, and consider the following risks when determining re-mining, rehabilitation, closure and financial provisions for rehabilitation and closure:
    • The near certainty of contaminated water, which will require some form of decontamination treatment, decanting from closed underground mines, or from lower-lying interconnected neighbouring mines;
    • The near certainty of sulphate, chloride, metal and NORM contamination of soils and sediments by seepage from unlined tailings storage facilities (TSFs), tailings spillages and plant discharges and the potential for contamination of downstream /downwind soils and sediments;
    • The near certainty of sulphate, chloride, metal and NORM contamination of surface water bodies and their sediments, and ground water, by seepage from unlined tailings storage facilities, tailings spillages, plant discharges and underground workings. In addition, the potential contamination of surface soils overlying shallow polluted groundwater via evaporative pathways during dry seasons.

MINING

Jozi Gold Review

The prestigious Modern Times Review takes a look at Jozi Gold saying: “We see how secrecy and a lack of accountability shored up the power imbalances and oppressive practices of mining, which wrote the troubled history of South Africa as an extractive economy, and as a system of apartheid that mining sustained.” Read the full review here. 

SA NEWS

FSE - DONATION OF TREES AND TREE PLANTING IN SIMUNYE, WEST RAND IN ASSOCIATION WITH SOUTH DEEP MINE

The FSE, in association with Gold Fields’ South Deep Mine, donated 40 white Karee Trees (Searsia penduline) during Arbor Week to the mining affected community of Simunye in the West Rand and participated in the tree planting ceremony with the community of Simunye, the local Municipality and officials from South Deep Mine.  The FSE also delivered a presentation during the ceremony.

"Varkies" gou op hok, maar als nie pluis | Beeld

Article also available for download as an attachment.

Radon Alert - Carte Blanche

Millions of South Africans are exposed to radioactive radon gas in their homes and workplaces every day, as the naturally occurring gas escapes through cracks in the earth. The second leading cause of lung cancer in several countries, radon breaks down and when inhaled, decaying atoms emit alpha radiation that can damage the DNA. There are no safe levels of radon concentration. The United States Environmental Protection Agency emphasises any radon exposure has some risk of causing lung cancer. Carte Blanche investigates why South Africa has no regulations to protect against radon accumulation in the home and what you can do to test your home and prevent lung cancer.   Watch the video here.

WITS Economics & Finance Courses: Mining for Development: The Taxation Linkage

Economics & Finance Courses at the University of the Witwatersrand. Mining for Development: The Taxation Linkage - Understand taxation for development and sustainability in mining. View the course here. Enrolment starts on the 7th of October 2019.

WATER

FSE’s presentation to the Water and Sanitation Sector Leadership Group’s (WSSLG)* Sustainable Development Goal 6 Task Team on Thursday, the 26th of November 2020.

*The Water and Sanitation Sector Leadership Group (WSSLG) is the highest non-statutory strategic sector partnership forum for the South African water sector. The WSSLG serves as a think tank for the water sector and prepares an overarching national action agenda for implementing the National Water and Sanitation Resource Strategy 2 (NWSRS2) and ensures that sound policies, laws, strategies, programmes and institutions are developed to achieve the goals outlined in the NWRS2. The WSSLG also actively facilitates dialogue between the Department of Water and Sanitation, government departments, civil society and the private sector for input, support and contributions to joint strategic and coordinated actions to improve the implementation of water sector policies, strategies and programmes. In its advisory role, the WSSLG provides recommendations on policies, legislation, programmes and strategies and serves as credible forum for stakeholder consultation and involvement in the development of sector policies, legislation, programmes and strategies. Presentation attached for download.

How Relevant are the Vaal Barrage's Catchment Corums

Article in North Star - Vereeniging & Midvaal.Author: Johann Tempelhoff Art...

UNPACKING THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN WATER

PDF article attached for download....