Political leadership essential to mitigate acid mine drainage by sdsdfqw21

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									Date : November, 05 , 2010 Publication : Mining Weekly Page Number: 8-9




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                            Political leadership essential to mitigate
                            acid mine drainage problem ►s




                                                 ALSO PUBLISHER OF ENGINEERING NEWS and POLITY




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                        COVERSTORY
                        UMI:h!J!'ld.'iHlJ=TriirtiM?l




                        WATER
                        DILEMMA
                        Political leadership essential
                        to mitigate acid mine drainage problem
                        MEGAN WAIT I STAFF WRITER



                       A
                                 much anticipated report on    aquatic biota to be wiped out.
                                  acid mine drainage! \MI)i    The Hippo dam. which has two
                                k has been referred back        hippopotamuses, has also been
                                                                                                     POLLUTED
                         to the panel of experts by the        covered in sludge, containing         Water in the mine dump is visibly dark red from tailings
                         Inter-Ministerial Committee for       radioactive metals."
                         further work on options and cost          Visiting the site with Council    to the Department of Mineral
                         implications. The report was          for Scientific and Industrial          Resourees(DMR|. He has done
                         tabled on October 21 but not           Research (CSIR) geohydrologist       this, but still has had no response
                         made public.                          Phil Hobby Uininv Weekly found        from the department.
                            Meanwhile, fears have escalated    thai the sludge in the Hippo dam         Morgan rejected the answer,
                         that a solution will not be imple-    had receded but red sludge was        slating that the Minister of Water
                         mented in time to prevent the         still visible in the dam. with no     and Environmental Affairs should
                        decant of AMI) into ecologically       sighting of hippopotamus.             have had an opinion on the
                         sensitive riverine and wetland           While heavy rainfall may           situation and that it was unaccept-
                         systems, particularly in the face     impact on mine water levels, there    able that there had not been an
                        of seasonal rainfall in the com-       arc also problems in pumping and      answer from the DWA.
                         ing months.                           treating the mine water.                 Meanwhile. LielTcrink says
                            Environmentalists have termed         She also says that beleaguered     that, when she and the mines pre-
                        AMD the single mosi significant        miner Aurora must, to prevent         sented the problem to govern-
                        threat to South Africa's environ-      Hooding, pump up to 108-million       ment on July 21. a response from
                        ment, At the moment, the central       litres of mine water a day but.       the Parliamentary portfolio com-
                        basin, in Johannesburg, is rising      currently, as a result of financial   mittee was released, stating that it      ANTHONY TURTON
                                                                                                     realised the urgency of the matter        One must simply review remediation
                        between 0,3 m/d and 0,9 m/d,           constraints, it is only pumping
                                                                                                                                               as a way to restore investor confi-
                        leaving it about 530 m from un-        between 30-million and 50-            and that action would be taken            dence, which would make funding
                       controllable decanting, and is          million Hires a day. The eastern      within a week or two; it also pre-        available
                        believed to be heading for an          basin isfloodingand this water is     sented the short-, medium- and
                       ecological disaster.                    being discharged untreated into       long-term plans to tackle the            and Environmental Affairs
                            The University of Cape Tow n's     the highly compromised Vaal           problem.                                  Minister, which accused NCiOsand
                       Climate Systems Analysis Group          barrage system, which includes           She adds (hat the mines also          act iv isls of being opportunistic,
                        information shows that the             the Blesbokspruit.                     presented the case in 1996 in           alarmist and [being motivated by]
                        licai iesl seasonal rainfall for           LielTcrink emphasises that         the shape of the Strategic Water        commercial interest."
                       Gauteng will be from December           this will not only affect the          Management Plan Report to the              Refining the D W A statement
                        to January.                            environment but will also impact       DWA and to the Parliamentary            that organisations were playing
                           Public Environmental Arbiters       on buildings within the Johannes-     portfolio committee in 1999. "I also     on the fears of the public regard-
                       chairperson and federation for a        burg central business district. We     presented it to former director-        ing the availability of water in
                       Sustainable Environment CEO             also anticipate seismic events and    general of Water Affairs Pam             Ciauleng. as well as in Soulh
                        Marfette I iefferink tells Mining      ground movement." she adds.            Yakn. in February and March             Africa at large, to secure funding.
                        Weekly that, at the moment, the            Democratic Alliance MP            2009. and to the government task         LielTcrink states that the minimal
                       western mining basin is fully           Shadow Minister of Water and          learn on water and mining on two         funding of R13 000a month she is
                       Hooded and that this year's rainy       Environmental Affairs Gareth          occasions in 2009." she says.            being sponsored by a gold-mining
                       season u ill exacerbate the problem.    Morgan raised this issue with            "Notwithstanding the signifi-         company is purely for conducting
                           " T h i s w a t e r , which h a s   the Department of Water Affairs       cant news coverage, and non-             awareness creation workshops to
                       been classified as highly 'acute        i D\\ \) on September 17 He           governmental organisations'              enlighten ill-informed and unin-
                       toxic water', has fed into the          asked whether the department          ( N G O s ' l and civil society's        formed mining communities of
                        rweelopiespruit, which flowed          had established any link between      repeated requests for access to          the risks and hazards pertaining
                       into the Krugersdorp Game               rising acid mine water in the         information, government and              to mining pollution, including
                       Reserve during the 2009 to 2010         basins of (iauteng and seismic        its officials failed to engage with      AMD.
                       rainy season. This has caused           activity in the region. The DWA       society. There has been a perplex-          Meanwhile, water scientist
                       irreparable em iron mental damage       last week replied that the question   ing lapse into silence (since            Professoi Anthony Turton tells
                       to the quality of surface and           fell outside the mandate of the       September), preceded b) state-           Mining Weekly thit the missing
                       groundwater, and caused all             department and should be referred     ments by the DWA and the Water           link to tackle the problem of

                       8 MINING WEEKLYI Noverrtwr 5-n 2010




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Date : November, 05 , 2010 Publication : Mining Weekly Page Number: 8-9




                                                                                                            The p a r t i a l l y treated a n d            and that a lot of exceptional work
                                                                                                         untreated mine water f l o w s                    had been carried out in terms of
                                                                                                         t h r o u g h the K r u g e r s r d o r p         technology and treatment methods.
                                                                                                         Reserve and beyond, where it                      However, they felt that the
                                                                                                         enters the dolomitic Zwartkrans                   attempts to solve the problem were
                                                                                                         compartment and the southern                      not moving forward, as it is costly
                                                                                                         portion of the Cradle of Human-                   for the mines.
                                                                                                         kind. Apart from mine water, the                     Turton avers that the funding
                                                                                                         area is also affected by municipal                dilemma is an excuse. " I am aware
                                                                                                         wastewater effluent.                              o f one significant institutional
                                                                                                            TheCSIR is leading a study to                  investor that has exposure to up
                                                                                                         establish a comprehensive surface                 to R50-billion in real estate, with
                                                                                                         and groundwater monitoring pro-                   some developments being at risk
                                                                                                         gramme for the area. The study                    from A M D . This calls for a calcu-
                                                                                                         includes the development o f a                    lation cost: benefit becomes rela-
                                                                                                         sound conceptual model of the                     tive lo the cost of placing great
                                                                                                         groundwater regime in terms of                    assets at potential risk. I f one
                       SPILLING OVER                                                                      flow directions, boundary con-                   takes only a small fraction of the
                       Mine water splits into a catchment dam. where ft gets treated with caustic soda
                                                                                                         ditions and water quality aspects                 loss in investor confidence as a
                                                                                                         based on historical information,                  value, then the cost of treatment
                                                                is a simple legal issue: did min-
                                                                                                         long-term monitoring data and                     becomes relatively affordable. One
                                                                ing cause AMI)'.' Yes. Did min-
                                                                                                          new data and information.                        must simply review remediation
                                                                ing companies profit? Yes.
                                                                                                                                                           as a way lo restore investor con-
                                                                   "Government must enforce                 It is also developing a better
                                                                                                                                                           fidence, which would make fund-
                                                                a law that must apply to every           understanding o f the close rela-
                                                                                                                                                           ing available. Il is not a question
                                                                citizen, corporate or otherwise, if      tionship and interaction between
                                                                                                                                                           of funding, but rather the con-
                                                                we arc lo survive as a democracy.        groundwater and surface water in
                                                                                                                                                           fidence arising from transparency
                                                                It is about significant powerful         the largely dolomitic environment.
                                                                                                                                                           and credibility associated with
                                                                actors - m i n i n g companies-             "This is crucial for the imple-                the proposed solutions." he says.
                                                                increasing profits by being a law        mentation o f a relevant and
                                                                unto themselves." he adds.               effective water resource monitor-                    Liefferink adds that, in terms
                                                                   LielTerink agrees, adding that        ing programme. The study is                       of the Mineral and Petroleum
                                                                it would be unsustainable lo             also assessing the risk posed to                  Resources Development A c t
                                                                expect mining companies that are         the numerous United Nations                       (MPRDA). before mining rights
                                                                still operating today, using the "last   E d u c a t i o n a l . S c i e n t i f i c and   can be granted, the Minister of
                                                                man standing' concept, to pay            Cultural Organisation-inscribed                   Mineral Resources must deter-
                       MARIETTE LIEFFERINK                      for previous mining companies'           fossil sites, such as Stcrkfontein                mine a rehabilitation fund, which
                       Government has tailed to engage                                                   and Zwartkrans. by changes in                     must include latent or residual
                                                                misdeeds. "No one wants to carry
                       A M D is indeed political leader-        the cost for their predecessors, or      the quality of surface water and                  impacts. In terms of the MPRDA.
                       ship. "We became world leaders           future costs." she explains.             groundwater." Hobbs says.                         the Minister has the right, at any
                       in deep-level mining and water              She reiterates Turton s view that        He says, however, that there                   time, to liquidate the rehabilita-
                       resources (because these were]           government should promulgate a           have been small successes. "Gold                  tion fund or part of it. to address
                       prioritised by government. Sonjica       more visible law of liability. "We       miner Rand Uranium is able to                     critical environmental impacts.
                       has simply been unable to show           must know who has to pay. what           deal with its quantities o f water,               " M y repeated requests to the
                       leadership o f the calibre o f the       percentage government a n d .            which it is obligated lo treat.                   D M R to disclose where these
                       likes of Trevor Manuel. She and          indirectly, the taxpayer are con-        When testing the water, we found                  funds are held, or to liquidate the
                       her predecessor have squandered          tributing and what percentage            that the pH balance was near                      rehabilitation funds lo address
                       the time, since the 2002 Western         the m i n i n g companies must           neutral, reading at 6,9, but there is             the flooding of the basins and the
                       basin decant, to be proactive.           pay. This must be implemented            vtill ,1 high salimt) omul, indica-               decant of A M D . were abortive,"
                                                                through short-term and long-             tive of a high salt loading, such as              she concludes.
                         "In my view, they have shown
                       no leadership and now. at the            term plans and must be done              sulphate. But. otherwise, we are                    The further recommendations
                       eleventh hour, they appoint a            with urgency. Proactive measure          not doing too badly."                             of ihe panel o f experts w i l l be
                       so-called specialist team t o            management plans should be                                                                 awaited with some anxiety as
                       advise, when this problem has            enforced a n d . when there are          Funding to Solve AMD                              there is wide consensus lhat fund-
                       been c o m i n g for a decade. I         contraventions to government's           At a recent roundtablc. held at                   ing and technology should be
                       believe that this simple incom-          directive, there should be an            Electra Mining 2010 and hosted                    implemented as soon as possible
                       petence at Ministerial level means       enforcement of compliance."              by water treatment and process                    to prevent further decanting and
                       that we need Presidential leader-                                                 improvement company Nalco                         possible disaster. We may yet sec
                       ship, which I fully support." he         Cradle of Humankind                      Africa and attended by industry                   the implementation of an antici-
                       says.                                    Meanwhile. Ilobbs sa>s that C'SIR        players, such as g o l d - m i n i n g            pated private public partner-
                         Turton believes that, although         gcohydrologists are keeping a            companies Barrick G o l d and                     ship to provide a technically and
                       government should assist in man-         close eye on the effect of A M D         H a r m o n y G o l d , the issue o f             economically viable and self-
                       aging the A M D problem, it should       on surface water and ground-             water search) am! A M D was                       sustaining solution for A M D for
                       not alone be held liable. "How can       water resources in the Western           also raised.                                      years to come. But a solution will
                       government be held liable when           basin and the Cradle of Human-             Delegates noted that the problem                need to be found urgently.
                       the mines caused the problem? it         kind World Heritage Site.                had been identified 15 years ago.                           OPN N
                                                                                                                                                           WM0 WEWV C U O O P«« » Q M S


                                                                                                                                                  MINING WEEKLY! November5-11 2010




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