The Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) warned of catastrophic effects on Johannesburg’s water if new mines are opened in Mpumalanga.
More than 50 mining operations near the Vaal and Komati Rivers are working without water license.
Many of these mines have applied for licenses but are already operational without the valid license.
Regulation and oversight on the discharge of mining waste water into local ground supplies is absent.
Dr Koos Pretorius said in areas that have been mined for almost 100 years, the acid mine drainage has polluted rivers to such an extent the water is unsuitable for irrigation, industrial use and human consumption.