Mines named and shamed for pollution

2012-05-22 22:22

Cape Town - Water affairs fingered four coal mines for the pollution of drinking water in the Mpumalanga town of Carolina on Tuesday.

The department’s chief operating officer Trevor Balzer told Parliament’s water affairs portfolio committee the four were Northern Coal’s Mimosa Mine, a mine operated by Siphetha Coal, Union Colliery owned by BHP Billiton, and a colliery operated by Msobo Coal.

Residents of the town and its surrounds have been unable to drink the water from their taps for the past few months, and have been supplied by water tankers.

Responding to a question on the situation in Carolina, Balzer told MPs that while the town’s water supply was no longer hazardous, it was still not fit for drinking.

"The department is working with the municipality. As reported to me on Friday [18 May], the water is no longer acidic, and we've managed to control the iron, sulphate and aluminium levels to consistently comply with the national standards for drinking water," he said.

"So the water is not hazardous, but the one element we still have fluctuating in the water is the manganese level, so you have... discolouration. Because of this... the water is not yet suitable for drinking purposes, but it can be used for washing purposes."

Balzer said the department hoped that by the end the month, the water would be suitable for drinking. Authorities would continue providing water in tankers for residents.

Acid mine drainage

Asked by committee chair Johnny de Lange if the problem was caused by acid mine drainage (AMD), Balzer said: "Yes, it is as a result of some contamination, it appears." He then named the four mines, and confirmed they were all working mines.

On what the mines were doing about the pollution, he said the department was "working with them", but was unable to say whether the mines were pumping to reduce the level of the acid water in their workings.

"I don't have that information with me," Balzer said.

De Lange asked the department to provide his committee, which was being briefed on the management of AMD on the Witwatersrand, with a progress report.

"Here is a prime example... where we need a plan for the rest of the country. Unfortunately, our department has seen fit to postpone that plan for 13 months before they start drafting it, until they've completed a feasibility study," De Lange said.

Balzer said pre-directives - legal notices calling for compliance with standards - had been issued to each of the four mines.

  • Mandy Casey - 2012-05-23 00:10

    Who thinks that fracking is still a good idea?

      Zamile Zet Somco - 2012-05-23 03:47

      definitely not me!

      Martin - 2012-05-23 14:21

      i say we pick a fight if the fracking idea goes ahead, we gonna cripple sanral, so we may as well cripple the frackers too!! Cos from the stuff im reading bribes have been paid and the ministers are starting to see dollar signs.

      Gary - 2012-07-10 12:47

      Not in the hands of our cruddy Government it's not......

      jacovniek - 2012-07-10 12:53

      I wish those fracking fraccers will frac off! :-)

  • Vince.York - 2012-05-23 06:02

    Are any NOT related to the "blackened spear's dynasty" or that featherbed in the infrastructure of colonial buildings, the Chancellor House, Thebe, Mvela or Phosa and other party 'thief' organs? 13 months? More like 13 don't hold your parched throats expectantly. Aurora and the zuma's attitudes should have clearly shown the end result. Despicable and sheer dissappointment

  • Chumscrubber1 - 2012-05-23 06:23

    Useless and spineless water affairs and environmental affairs, these mines are getting away with destroying the resources of this country. Useless and spineless!! I won't attack the ANC as the previous regime was also pretty inactive when it came to invironment and mines. I hoped the ANC would be different - but money is all that matters. Its going to hurt us all in the long run, and hurt bad.

  • Phae - 2012-05-23 07:06

    How can this story not cause outrage, and demands for this practice to be halted and rectified immediately? The companies named should have their mining licenses suspended until they comply.

  • Peter Zylstra - 2012-05-23 07:51

    What about the aurora mining scandal which involves Zumas and Mandellas. Is this mine protected by political connections? These mines to named and shamed are definately not AA or BEE companies!

  • Steve Elske - 2012-05-23 13:02

    The mines should be held responsible not just shamed!

  • ludlowdj - 2012-05-23 13:57

    Another ANC failure, we never had any problems with mines not pumping water prior to the birth of "democracy", obviously the government has failed to ensure that mines rehabilitate the water and soil they use and have enforced green initiatives, presumable for a big backhand from all the cost savings. Acid water will destroy the wetlands faster than any other cause and ares which are currently seeing acid mine drainage at ground level can safely kiss their indigenous wildlife and flora away.

  • Diaan - 2012-05-23 16:33

    and ... WAIT FOR IT ..... They are all BEE mines !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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