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.
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 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.â€
The Federation for a Sustainable Environment continues to engage on Pilansberg issues, including sense of place, water, compliance, mining, eco-tourism, tourism, enviornmental management framework, biodiversity and regional impacts.
Gold mines produced more than 270 tailings storage facilities and the rehabilitation of these facilities can be complex and the results misleading if measures only in the short term.
"It is not uncommon for African governments to exploit the poor and marginalized for perceived gains in the interest of the strong multinational companies and a few local beneficiaries.
"Endowed with vast natural resources such as wild animals, unique flora and fauna, rivers, lakes and minerals such as copper, uranium, zinc, diamonds and silver to mention but a few, many governments in Africa, rather than improving the lives of their citizens end up piling misery on the vulnerable in society.
"Take the mining of uranium for instance. It holds so much promise on the face of it but deep down the layers of reality, one sees that only multinational companies, corrupt government officials among
them, only a token few locals benefit from its exploitation."
Download the report.
A critical evaluation of the challenges facing dust management within gold mining regions of South Africa by JJ Martins
"...the biggest challenge within this area is that neither districts nor gold mines receive any assistance nor do they report to government with regards to their dust management programme. This poses a challenge as it limits both the districtâ€Ÿs and gold mines â€Ÿability to enforce and improve their dust management programmes. The lack of use of information provided by interested and affected parties (Paragraph 4.3.8) within the dust management plan of both the district and gold mines is a major challenge as deposition-dust regulations were initiated to protect the public and their property ... in the first place. The biggest challenge, however, as identified in the study for this focus area is the lack of specialist involvement in dust management plans and programmes of both districts and gold mines ... There are, however, implications regarding the capacity of consultants rendering services as air-quality specialists ....). It is the view of the author that when it comes to using consultants a clear distinction should be made between dust management and monitoring as the necessary qualifications relevant to each of the areas are totally different. It was confirmed by questionnaires to specialists ... that there is a general lack of scientific knowledge within dust management. It is furthermore the author's view that to render air-quality services specifically pertaining to monitoring one should at least have a tertiary qualification in science."
Mariette Liefferink presented "Radiological Impacts, Health Risks and HazardsÂ to Staff and Students of the Crown Mine Art and Music College pertaining to Mine Residue Deposits".
The opening statement of the presentation sets the scene for serious risk to ecosystems, the life sustaining ecological systems on which we rely -
Uranium mining operations have high impacts on environment and society, and can lead to deterioration of health of workers and communities. Uranium mining activities are increasing in Africa, where mining is not always strictly regulated and controlled. Mitigation of negative impacts from uranium mines by national governments and international mining companies can have a positive effect on society and environment.
An assessment of the mitigation measures is addressed in the report "Uranium from Africa" by World Information Service on Energy (WISE) and Stichting Onderzoek Multinationale Ondernemingen (SOMO)
The report assesses what mitigation measures governments and industry are taking in Namibia, South Africa, and the Central African Republic. Practices are compared with Canada and Australia, where regulation is more strict.
"It is surprising that South Africa has no specialised institutions which have adequate knowledge on the impacts of (uranium) mining operations and can monitor, educate, and advise on all mining-related health and environmental issues".
EXTRACTS from the report are contained in this article. The FULL REPORT is available to download.
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.
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.
The FSE will be presenting at a keynote panel discussion at "The Water Show Africa" on the 29th of March.
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”.
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.
Focus on preventing illness rather than incurring the expense of treatment....
In the Midvaal suburb where Sipho Mosai lives, the gardens are lush and green be...