Acid mine water disaster: Government will ‘flush pollution’, serves directive on company

The government is ordering a mine to pay for rehabilitation costs after the discharge of acid mine water into the river system in Mpumalanga last week, while approving the release of water from four dams in a bid to flush the pollution.

Officials of the department of water and sanitation inspecting an area around a colliery in Middelburg and the dams affected by an acid water spillage in 2020. File photo.
Image: Mandla Khoza

The owners of the Kromdraai mine have been slapped with a directive under the National Water Act “for failure to take all reasonable measures to contain and minimise the effects of the incident that led to the pollution of the Kromdraai River and affecting the Wilge River”, said water and sanitation department (DWS) spokesperson Sputnik Ratau.

The mine discharged acid mine water into the Kromdraai River after the collapse of an old shaft on or around February 14, said the department, adding the mine has acknowledged culpability.

“Pollution of water resources will not be tolerated, and polluters must pay for their irresponsible actions,” said Ratau.

Images of the damage have been shared on Facebook by people in the area. See them here and here

  • take all reasonable measures to contain and minimise the effects of the incident;
  • undertake cleanup procedures;
  • remedy the impact of the incident; and
  • appoint a suitably qualified professional to compile a rehabilitation plan for all the affected areas within 10 days.

The plan must be submitted to the department for consideration, and the mine must implement all the recommendations contained in the rehabilitation plan and rehabilitate the areas affected by the water activities within 30 days after approval by the department.

Ratau said the department is “taking appropriate actions in the meantime, with continuing engagements with the mine and affected parties”.

“There is a decision to release water from the Loskop, Wilge, Bronkhorstspruit and Middelburg dams to flush the pollution. This will determine how much water will be required for this action, and then a determination of the cost of such water will also be determined and that money will be reimbursed by the mine to the DWS.”

TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)


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