Last week the terrain of Blyvoor Gold Mine was the site of much activity as representatives of various government departments flocked to the mine to investigate allegations of environmental pollution.
The Herald reported earlier this year that the well-known environmentalist, Mariette Liefferink, opened a case against Blyvoor over its pollution of the area. If found guilty, Liefferink wants Blyvoor to pay compensation to those who are affected. The alleged polluters must also remediate the degraded and polluted areas and be declared incapable to acquire a mining right.
The case was later taken over by the Environmental Management Inspectorate of the Department of Environmental Affairs, commonly known as the “Green Scorpions”.
Last week Wednesday, members of this Inspectorate as well as representatives of the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR), the Department of Minerals and Energy, the Inspectorate of the Department of Water Affairs and the Tlokwe Local Municipality met at Blyvoor to gather possible evidence for this case.
One of the issues that the group discovered was underground mine water being pumped directly into a canal that leads to the Wonderfonteinspruit. The investigators also spent some time at the area from where mine tailings washed onto the side of the road earlier this year.
“One could also see quite clearly how the special equipment of the NNR officials picked up radioactivity at a site where some mine tailings spilled,” Liefferink, who also accompanied the group, told the Herald afterwards.
As part of the investigation, the Green Scorpions also put special colouring into sample areas of water to determine the area of origin of the water. Various ground and water samples were also taken to be analysed.
“It is the first time ever that so many government institutions got involved in such an investigation. In the past, many people had been demoralised by the reluctance of government to get involved in actions against pollution mines. This is, for sure, a very heartening step,” says Liefferink.
As far as could be determined, the results of the analysis of the samples taken during last week’s visit will determined the further outcome of the case as well as the time that it will take for completion.
Although the results may lead to these samples becoming evidence in the upcoming court case against Blyvoor, an urgent interdict may still be obtained if it is found that the mine is indeed currently dangerously polluting the environment.