SA water polluted by mines to be mapped

2014-01-10 10:43
Acid mine drainage.

Acid mine drainage. (Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - The Water Research Commission (WRC) has embarked on an extensive study which aims to map surface and underground water currently influenced by mines.

“The atlas will be a significant and timely contribution that can inform the implementation of commitments made in the past two years,” said Dr Jo Burgess, WRC research manager.

According to the WRC, the impacts of the mining industry on aquatic and terrestrial habitats are severe and have a long-term nature.

The atlas, comprising several chapters, will illustrate South Africa's hydrological characteristics and cover topics including water resources and water distribution.

These features will be overlaid with a map  of mining activities in order to understand the areas where water resources and mining collide.

A major impact of mining activity on water sources occurs through acid mine drainage (AMD), where by-products of the mining process interact with water to create acidity with varying levels of toxicity.

According to Consultancy Africa Intelligence, the worst AMD cases are seen in the vicinity of Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand. But communities along the Vaal and Limpopo Rivers are also being threatened.  

In a recent incident the Selati River, an important tributary of the Olifants River, was contaminated with highly acidic water after heavy rains caused the overflow of an impoundment dam at Bosveld Phosphate’s fertiliser manufacturing plant in Phalaborwa.

One of the biggest challenges will be to get access to the large amounts of data residing with private consultants and mining companies.

Some of South Africa’s biggest mining operations, including Anglo Platinum and BHP Billiton, have pledged their assistance.

"If we did not have a collegial reference group full of people willing to share whatever data they can, the atlas could not become a reality," Burgess said.

Follow Dane on Twitter

Read more on:    wrc  |  anglo platinum  |  bhp billiton  |  johannesburg  |  water  |  acid mine water  |  pollution

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.