Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 19 August 2010
Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Buyelwa Sonjica, while acknowledging the seriousness of the threat posed by Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), on Thursday assured the public that citizens of Johannesburg would not wake up one morning to a flood of acid water in the CBD as it has been reported previously.
“The exaggeration of this problem is un-called for and I would like to urge all interested and affected individuals and organizations to refrain from making alarmist statements in relation to this issue,” Sonjica said, adding that the financial interests of the private sector are also to a large degree playing a role in fuelling some of the hype around AMD.
“Government views the matter of the Acid Mine Drainage in a serious light and a series of engagements with my counterparts in the government have taken place on this urgent matter,” said Sonjica.
The Department of Water Affairs said the minister was setting up a high-level technical task team to tackle the AMD challenge currently facing the country in particular the Witwatersrand area.
This initiative is among the minister’s interventions to deal with the impending environmental problem, the department said.
The team comprising experts from the water sector, institutions of higher learning, the mining sector and independent scientists among others will provide an informed, independent assessment of the situation, and propose sustainable, workable and affordable solutions to deal with this issue comprehensively.
Sonjica said that among the key factors in finding a permanent solution to the problem is affordability of options presented thus far.
Given the challenges facing government at this time, it is in the interest of all, to favor cheap effective and sustainable methods of dealing with this issue, she said.
In addition, she said it must be borne in mind that the magnitude and extent of the problem calls for integrated efforts between government and the industry if a sustainable solution is to be found.
“I am happy to say that the mining sector has come on board and has submitted a revised proposal following extensive engagements with government,” Sonjica added.
At the same time, the department said it was stepping up enforcement efforts to ensure accountability of the mining sector and to protect the country’s resources.
“It is a well known fact that previous legislation did not make adequate provision for the rehabilitation and as such the issue of ownerless mines that are no-longer operational exacerbates the problem,” the department said.