Annual Report: 2016

Written by  Mariette Liefferink Thursday, 02 March 2017 11:20
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Over the past years we have had the pleasure of watching a greater measure transparency, honesty and openness in the mining industry and the publishing of Regulations calling for easier access by the public to Environmental Management Programme Reports, Audit Reports, Water Use Licenses, closure plans and financial provisions. 

We participated in the drafting of government policies and strategies pertaining to mine water and waste management, the determination of resource quality objectives and reconciliation strategies for important water management areas during 2016.  We refer to the abovementioned section for a more detailed discussion on these matters. 

While the environmental and socio-economic impacts upon mining affected communities remain very challenging and the obstacles to environmental and social justice are many, we witnessed during 2016 the establishment and implementation of grievance mechanisms, procurement and recruitment opportunities and active engagements with mining affected communities,  and honest disclosure of water and dust monitoring results by Gold Fields’ South Deep Mine and the facilitation of tours by Sibanye Gold of their operations within the West Rand goldfields in order for interested and affected parties to witness first-hand the legacy of gold mining, the impacts and challenges. 

We are deeply grateful for the expert and pro bono assistance of environmental lawyers and advocates, such as Adv. Peter Lazarus and public law firms, such as the Centre for Environmental Rights and the Legal Resources Centre; the sponsoring of flights by Bataleurs; the in depth research and publication of valuable academic papers by academics with impeccable credentials such as Prof Bonny Dotcherty of the Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, Prof Tracy Humby of the Wits School of Law, Prof Elize van Eeden of the North West University, etc. on issues of concern to the FSE.

Applying the “opportunity cost” principle places a positive duty upon the decision makers to consider if proposed mining developments in high and highest biodiversity important areas constitute the best use of the resources (i.e. the best practicable environmental option). 

If we, as a country, are to mine all minerals in the ground, then there should be no regard for the environment since all of South Africa, as a resource rich country, will in any event be mined.  If, however, not all minerals are to be mined and some will be left in the ground,  then a decision on which areas to mine and the areas in which to leave the minerals in the ground, should be made.  

It is our submission that the first scenario is not sustainable and should thus never be an option.

Read the full report by downloading the PDF version. 



Ransacked Gold Mine Venture Reboots

South African mining veteran Peter Skeat is pressing ahead with plans to squeeze more gold out of an 80-year-old ransacked gold mine west of Johannesburg after settling a dispute with three former partners.

Coal Mines leave a legacy of ruin

Oxpeckers publishes never-before-seen data exposing the lack of mine closures, d...

Tours of West Rand gold fields

The FSE conducts regular tours with interested and affected parties, of the West...


LLM/MPhil in Environmental Law Programme launched

  The Department of Public Law at the University of Pretoria hosted a launch of its LLM and MPhil programmes in Environmental Law, coordinated by Ms Melanie Murcott, Senior Lecturer, Environmental and Administrative Law, in February 2017.

Water Show

The FSE will be presenting at a keynote panel discussion at "The Water Show Africa" on the 29th of March.

Lauded for research on SA acid mine drainage

The launch of Acid mine drainage in South Africa: Development actors, policy impacts and broader implications, by Suvania Naidoo, took place on 10 February 2017. The book has proven to be a timely publication because of the incipient water crisis in South Africa. The event was hosted by Unisa’s Department of Development Studies in the College of Human Sciences. The guests were welcomed by the chair of the department, Prof Gretchen du Plessis, who expressed that “development studies is an ever-changing discipline and is a space where different issues converge”. She further stated that the book fills a void in our knowledge about acid mine drainage (AMD) and that the publication is “an example of hard work which results in big achievements”.

Truth of the dust that brings death

  A new hard-hitting report from Harvard Law School details how South Africa has failed to meet its human rights obligations concerning gold mining in and around Joburg. Bonnie Docherty, who led the research, spoke to Sheree Bega


Eastern Basin acid water plant is "sledgehammer"

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has used a "sledgehammer" for its R1bn treatment plant for acid mine drainage (AMD) on the Eastern mining basin that could ultimately create more toxic water.  This is the view of water strategy and consulting mining hydrologist Kym Morton, who believes government is "wasting money" by pumping large volumes of water and adding lime that makes it alkaline but still toxic and hazardous. 

SABC Health Talk, Environmental Health: 25 February 2017

Focus on preventing illness rather than incurring the expense of treatment....

Rand Water tightens the taps in Gauteng

In the Midvaal suburb where Sipho Mosai lives, the gardens are lush and green be...