THE POTENTIAL to create 100 climate jobs and to help : bring a “dead river system” back to life -that’s the rationale behind a proposed pilot project to heal one of Gauteng’s most heavily polluted river systems, the Tweelopiespruit, which has been contaminated by more than a century of mining.
This week, Mariette Liefferink, the chief executive of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, launched her new booklet, which details how the proposed project can help not only address the ·waste and pollution legacy of mining in the Witwatersrand basin, but help fight climate change.
Gold and uranium mining from four major mines have caused the contamination and destruction of wetlands, affected biodiversity, soil quality, groundwater and air quality, “thus exacerbating the adverse impacts of climate change”, Liefferink writes in Rehabilttation of Mine Contaminated Ecosystems: A Contribution to a Just Transition to a Low carbon economy and to combat unemployment and climate change.
The booklet, which was Jaunched at the SA Human Rights Commission in Joburg, was commissioned by the Alternative Information and Development Centre together with the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung foundation, which works in social justice programmes.
Liefferink’s booklet describes bow the decant of untreated acid mine water from 2002 to 2012 and the current discharge of neutralised mine water into the Tweelopiespruit has caused the contamination of receptor dams such as the Hippo Dam and Aviary Dam and associated wetlands.
The Tweelopiespruit is classified as a Class V river, with a very high acute hazard – all aquatic life has been destroyed. Liefferlnk envisions 100 people, from surrounding informal settlements in Randfontein, Mogale City and Weston.aria, could be equipped to remove radioactive contaminated material and rehabilitate these sites”.
The possibility exists to expand the project to other mine-contaminated wetlands and rivers such as the Leeuspruit, and the Wonderfonteinspruit Catchment Area, within the West Rand’s gold fields, which can create 300 further jobs.
However, these projects would have to be overseen by various departments “concerned with remdiating historically contaminated land”, such as the National Nuclear Regulator, Department of Water and Sanitation and the Department of Mineral Resources.
Liefferink writes how work on pollution remediation and ecosystem rehabilitation “fits with the rubruc of climate jobs, as it’s necessary to address th growing vulnerability of communities to climate change impacts”.
Through such projects, the extractive sector can “mitigate the impacts it had on natural systems and resources”.
“The potential to recover metals during rehabilitation and use the revenues generated to contribute to the costs of clean-up are recognised by the mining industry.”