A team of environmental management inspectors has been deployed to support the investigation into the spill of over 1.5million litres of polluted mine waste water into river systems in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
This comes after the province’s MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Ravi Pillay’s call for technical support from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment in dealing with the report of over 1.5 million litres of tailing materials flowed from a burst slurry dam at the Zululand Anthracite Colliery (ZAC) into nearby rivers, and surrounding land, on December 24.
“The team will support the ongoing efforts to address the impacts of the spill that is affecting rural communities and the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi reserve as well as posing a risk to the iSimangiliso Wetland Park,” said the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy.
According to a media statement from ZAC the spill was caused by the failure of the slurry pond end wall.
“This slurry pond end wall was newly installed, following the loading out of the dry slurry during November 2021.
A further aggravating factor in the end wall failure was the heavy rain fall four days prior to the failure – 66mm,” said ZAC’s environmental superintendent Msawenkosi Buthelezi.
Upon receiving a report on the failure, ZAC said, mine management immediately began with plugging the pond and initiated a clean-up operation, both manually and mechanically. T
he company said these clean-up operations would continue as guided by the relevant legislation.
ZAC, which has been producing and washing anthracite in the Okhukho area of Zululand for the last 38 years, is located 25km from Nongoma, and 40km from Ulundi, in the heart of rural Zululand.
Areas of interest bordering the mining right area are the Mfolozi River, and the Mfolozi section of the Hluhluwe Mfolozi game park.