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 FSE therefore concurs with the statement in the recently developed National Development Programme, namely that while it is “urgent to stimulate mining investment and production” it should be done “in a way that is environmentally sound.”
Mariette Liefferink lists among the challenges which the FSE works on that 1.6million people continue to live on radioactive mine residue areas, and that the negative environmental and social costs continue to be externalised to communities, future generations and a mute environment.
She also list some successes in the past year, including that the National Nuclear Regulator is developing processes for better communication with the public and other stakeholders, and an investigation by the Office of the public protector.