JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Environmental lobby group the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) has laid criminal charges against tailings extractor Mintails for noncompliance to its integrated water use licence (WUL) for its West Rand-based retreatment operations, saying it will also report the matter to the Office of the Public Protector for investigation.
According to the group, a March audit by Mintails adviser and environmental risk analyst Dr Anthony Turton of the company’s WUL revealed several areas of noncompliance.
FSE claimed in a document that these included the lack of a formal runoff plan for the Lancaster dam, uncertainty around the contamination of groundwater, the lack of a mine closure plan that was harmonised with the integrated water and waste management plan and rehabilitation strategy, the nonidentification of an alternative water supply and the lack of a comprehensive rehabilitation plan for the West Wits pit.
Moreover, a predirective issued to Mintails by the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) on January 23 had confirmed that there was a recurrence of pollution owing to mining operations, which posed an adverse impact on local water resources.
Identifying areas of concern, the report noted spillages of slurry and stockpiles that were lying fallow along the servitude of the pipeline that conveyed slurry from the dump to the Mogale Gold processing plant.
The directive further noted that discoloured reddish-brown water had been found ponding around the areas affected by the spillages.
In addition, the pipelines conveying slurry and related products across a storm water culvert “regularly experienced” failure and the area was recorded as having experienced several incidents of pollution.
The directive stated that the stormwater channel running parallel to Lancaster dam had been compromised owing to the accumulation of sediments from previous spillages and/or poor storm water management, leading to sedimentation of the watercourse.
“The department is, therefore, of the opinion that the mine is not complying with the provisions of the National Water Act,” it stated.
This followed an earlier predirective issued to Mintails by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) on December 13, 2013, which directed the mine to “clean up all spillages of slimes along the pipeline route and dispose of it at the mine’s tailings facility”, in accordance with of Section 29(b) of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.
The mine was also ordered to extend the culvert to each joint of the pipeline to limit incidents, such as spills to the surrounding environment, and conduct a regular clean-up operation on the pipeline route whenever there was a spill.
“In view of the above-mentioned noncompliances recorded by Dr Turton of Mintails’ WUL and the failure of the DWA to enforce these noncompliances within the terms and conditions of the DWA’s and DMR’s predirectives, the FSE is now compelled to lay criminal charges against Mintails and to report this matter to the Office of the Public Protector,” FSE CEO Mariette Liefferink said in a statement on Monday.
Edited by: Tracy Hancock