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Mines operate without water licence

This article for the Times really pushes my hot-buttons. It leads me to question whether the people that are supposed to be taking care of our future and our country actually give a damn. I was left speechless when I heard that in the last year many more mines have opened without water licenses.

In the past year in Mpumalanga along, 41 mines have started operating without water licenses. How can these mines be giving a water supply without the necessary paperwork? To me this just smells of corruption. No wonder the Witwatersrand area has toxic ground water. It looks like the Department of Environmental and Water Affairs is quite happy to stand back and watch while the environment suffers.

The Democratic Alliance points out that the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Buyelwa Sonjica, has admitted that 125 mines in this country are operating without a valid water licence.

The figure was given in a written reply to a Parliamentary question from DA spokesman Gareth Morgan this week. He said on Thursday that while the minister claims to have a plan to expedite water licences for mines that have applied for these rights the question to be asked is how are mines even allowed to begin operating if they do not have permission from the start to use water and discharge it thereafter back into water courses?

“Why are they allowed to continue to operate when it is known they do not have a water licence, especially in cases where no attempt has been made by mines to even apply for a mining licence?” he said. “The situation around water-use licences for mines is rotten and requires improved interventions by government before mines begin operating.”

Morgan indicated that the figure of 125 mines operating without valid water licences is higher than the 104 mines in this situation which was provided in the reply to a similar parliamentary question last year. It is not clear why this is the case, he said, but is most likely as a result of new mines coming into operation over this period.

The figures reveal that Mpumalanga’s water resources may be under severe threat from mining, both in terms of water availability for competing users and in terms of availability of water of a suitable quality. Last year there were 13 mines in Mpumalanga operating without water licences, now there are 54.

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