AMD emergency programme

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 19 March 2010

Short-term emergency steps have been introduced to reduce and treat uncontrolled Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) from the West Rand, Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said.

Untreated acid water flows into the Tweelopiespruit through the Krugersdorp Game Reserve

Sonjica, who visited the Western Mining Basin Void on Thursday, said in a statement that R6.9-million was allocated to treat and reduce AMD that flowed uncontrolled from old abandoned mines.

Two mining operations, Rand Uranium and Mogale Gold, were appointed to spear-head the treatment and reduction of the acid water in the West Rand as an emergency measure. “These two mining houses are equipped with the necessary pumping and treatment facilities to deal with this emergency in the interim,” said Sonjica.

“They have already started to maximise the pumping capacities of their treatment plants in order to reduce the uncontrolled overflow presently occurring in the Western Basin. In addition, they are treating the overflow from the Western Basin to minimise environmental impacts downstream of the discharge point.”

Untreated acid water from underground operations in the area was flowing into the Tweelopiespruit through the Krugersdorp Game Reserve. Sonjica said this was as a result of reduced pumping rates by mines, combined with heavy rainfall in January.

“The present AMD problem arose as a result of old abandoned underground operations in the Krugersdorp and Randfontein areas that have flooded, resulting in the formation of highly polluted, acidic and toxic mine water. This water is decanting (overflowing) on the surface environment,” she said.

She said the department’s scientists and management of the mines have been hard at work to find a solution to the problem. “I am well aware that this is but a short-term intervention,” she said of the emergency measures taken.

The department has set up a Public-Private Partnership Model to reach a permanent solution to the problem. “This model also provides for the setting up of a non-profit making entity which will be focusing on the management of AMD for a number of decades to come,” she said. – Sapa

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