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Acid water threat mounts

Turton, a scientist and author of the environmental science book, Shaking Hands With Bill, said a major crisis has been threatening since 2002, when the first acid mine drainage (AMD) “decant” started but was ignored by government.

“Nothing has changed. Government has convened a team and is considering technical reports but, as of now, no decision has been communicated to society,” said Turton.

“The main story now is Central Rand Gold, (CRG). If they do engineering then the AMD rising in the void is stopped. If not, they will start to flood in about six months.”

Johan du Toit, chief executive at CRG, said the company has ordered pumps to combat the threat.

CRG, in the central Witwatersrand basin, employs 250 people and has a similar number of contractors.

“The industry has indicated its willingness to help and the costs could amount to R180-million,” said Du Toit. “CRG doesn’t have that kind of money and all I can say is that we are anxious to see the problem resolved. The government needs to act quickly; this is not a CRG problem but a national crisis.”

Source: Times Live

Jo Burgess, research manager at the Water Research Commission, said recent rains would cause the underground water table to rise faster.

“However, the average rates of rise that are worked out per annum are not affected, as the average takes dry and wet season rates into account. Heavy rains make action more urgent, but it’s never too late to do the right thing,” Burgess said.

Turton added: “Higher rainfall will also result in higher ingress (movement of water through rock into mine voids). But, no, greater flows in rivers actually dilute out contamination by AMD and other sources of pollution.”

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