Gold mine pumps acidic water into stream

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 03 March 2010

A gold mining company which belongs to Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zondwa Mandela, and Khulubuse Zuma, a cousin of President Jacob Zuma, is being accused of pumping 28 megalitres of acidic mine water into the Blesbokspruit every day from its beleaguered Grootvlei gold mine in Springs.

Blesbokspruit is one of the larger wetlands in the highveld region of southern Africa

According to Marius Keet, deputy director of water quality at the Department of Water Affairs, Aurora mining company is in breach of the conditions of its water licence. According to Beeld’s information, this amounts to environmental crime.

Keet said that he has investigated the matter and found that Blesbokspruit is seriously polluted with heavy metals. Apparently the mining company only buys enough chemicals to treat 80 megalitres of polluted mine water. The rest is pumped, untreated and polluted, into Blesbokspruit, which is upstream from the Marievale Ramsar wetlands site.

According to Keet this is possibly why the water looks “white” during the day and has a “red glow” at night. Keet said this is unacceptable. “The mine must present its plans for the polluted water by the end of the week.”

Beeld has learned that Aurora is over R90m in debt after the group bought shafts at Orkney as well as the Blyvooruitsicht mine at Carletonville. Aurora reportedly bought Grootvlei for R390m but has so far only been able to pay R5m.

Stan Madden, member of the Wildlife and Environment Association of South Africa (Wessa), said it’s unacceptable that black empowerment transactions, such as the one between Aurora and the liquidators of the former owner of Grootvlei, Pamodzi, take place when people don’t have the money. “How can people be allowed to buy a mine if they don’t have the money?

“Where on earth have you ever heard of such a thing? It’s only in South Africa. It’s unacceptable and unprofessional. Who do they think is going to clean up the environmental damage? Us, as civil society?” he asked.

Fazel Bhana, spokesperson and financial advisor for Aurora, was not available for comment.


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