by Sue Blaine, 18 November 2013
SOUTH Africa’s acid mine drainage (AMD) problem, which affects an area far wider than the public Witwatersrand issue, has been “exacerbated” by the government’s mismanagement, says Gauteng City-Region Observatory researcher Kerry Bobbins.
Experts have pointed out AMD was a problem as far back as the 1950s, if not earlier. Yet it was only in August 2002 when, as predicted by scientists in 1996, AMD decanted in the Witwatersrand’s Western Basin (Krugersdorp-Randfontein area) that government acknowledged it needed a remedy.
“It’s not just an issue of contaminated water, it’s also a breach of public trust. The government waited eight years to do anything,” says Ms Bobbins.
However, on Monday Ms Bobbins pointed out that it was “important to understand” that the government had taken measures to mitigate the effect of acid mine drainage in the eight years. The Department of Water Affairs issued legal notices to mines ordering them to take steps to prevent the pollution.
“It was after rejecting this proposal and pilot studies in 2009 that the government took their own steps to mitigate acid min drainage and appointed the interministerial commit