Mine drainage treatment threatens sanctuary

A proposed acid mine drainage (AMD) treatment facility could threaten an internationally-protected wetland near Nigel, east of Joburg.

The Saturday Star reported that the environmental impact assessment for the sludge disposal facility in the Eastern Basin warns that its proximity to the Marievale Bird Sanctuary and the Blesbokspruit wetlands could “have a negative impact on flora and fauna”.

The report was compiled by Digby Wells Environmental, which is handling government’s response to AMD.

The Blesbokspruit wetlands are protected as a Ramsar wetland of international importance but, if the plans go ahead, from next year partially-treated acid mine water could spill into it from the plant.

The environmental impact report warned that potential spillage could “affect the acidity of the Blesbokspruit and in turn affect the mortality rate of the preferred food source for many water fowl”.

Water affairs spokesperson Sputnik Ratau was quoted as saying that the solution to the AMD problem in the area “outweighs the otherwise negative environmental and socio-economic impacts of AMD in these basins, should no action be taken, which will inevitably have far reaching adverse implications for the Vaal River system”.

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