The FSE is of the firm opinion that many persons and companies want to financially profit from the current situation. This is resulting in failure to holistically identify and manage the AMD impacts and challenges. The reason might partly be that the situation is a political problem as well.
Because of commercial and political agendas, a significant number of credible individuals and companies have already decided to step back from any involvement. The consequence is that good companies or solutions might not be taken into consideration. We strongl y advocate to bring back a scientifically sound environmental impact assessment (EIA) and public participation for the immediate-, short and medium term treatment of AMD as well as an EIA and public involvement for the long term treatment of AMD, which would leave not much spac e for “it could be” or “could not be” postulations. This will obviate reactive management of the impacts and will foster a pro-active management of the impacts. While we take cognisance of the fact that there will always be uncertainties, in science there are ways to calculat e the uncertainties.
The FSE’s comment also quotes Prof Fank Winde, as he writes about Mintail’s Tailings Water Treatment Technology for AMD:
“The main concern is that the proposal does not, in any way, offer a long-term solution to the AMD problem and would, at best, only allow postponing the need for finding a sustainable long-term solution provided the method is as successful as claimed.
Whether the suggested mixing of AMD and alkaline tailings will have the claimed effects of neutralising discharged surplus water is by no means proven. The supplied data are sketchy and insufficient to support this claim especially with respect to reactions in water discharged into nearby streams as well as long-term consequences.
Errors and omissions regarding pertinent chemical reactions governing the process cast further doubt on the viability of the proposed method.
Furthermore, the impression is gained that the proposal is an attempt to recover normal operational (and even capital) costs incurred by treating tailings and ore from government through offering the ‘service’ of neutralising acid mine water even though the latter is part of the normal operation.
If costs to Government for treating pumped AMD at the existing (recently expensively revamped) water plant of Rand Uranium can be lessened in the short-term by Mintails through using AMD in its internal processes this should however be considered as a means to lower the burden on society. This should preferably be done with the understanding that saved funds are used to address the root cause of AMD and to implement sustainable solutions. However, before the method can be considered for short-term implementation it first needs to be established by rigorous laboratory and field trials that the claimed effects of the mixing method are indeed present and that they are not outweighed by possible other costs such as increased pumping depth or environmental deterioration.”
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