Mine given a week to stop polluting water
The Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, has given the Elandsfontein Colliery a week to stop polluting water and operating without a water use licence or face criminal charges.
Mabudafhasi issued the directive to the CEO of Namane Holdings, John Schoeman, who is responsible for Elandsfontein Colliery in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga. This comes after she visited the coal mine.
The mine is accused of, among others, diverting the flow of an unknown stream through its mining activities. The stream is a subsidiary of Olinfants River, where fish was reported to have died from pollution in the past two years.
The colliery is also accused of discharging waste into four abandoned voids through an unlined channel in violation of the National Water Act of 1998. It is also alleged to have discharged water containing waste from the coal plant into an unlined dam.
Furthermore, it is alleged to have discharged water containing waste into two unlined pollution control dams, four voids and the furrow transporting water containing waste to the voids.
Mabudafhasi warned that should the colliery fail to address this, the department will lay criminal charges at Witbank Central Police Station next Monday.
“The mine was in violation of sub-section 21 of the National Water Act of 1998. Should the mine fail to meet this week’s deadline, the department will lay criminal charges against them with a possible penalty of five years or a fine running into millions of rands or an amount to be determined by the courts,” said Mabudafhasi.
Mabudafhasi’s visit to the colliery was part of the launch of this year’s Blitz Week, which is spearheaded by the Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement, popularly known as the Blue Scorpions of the Department of Water Affairs.
It is an annual event that is aimed at raiding river polluters and offenders who abstract water from the rivers and dams as part of their zero tolerance to pollution and no-compliance.
The deputy minister gave the mine representatives a final warning following complaints that the mine was decanting and operating without a water use licence. The mine is also accused of building illegal structures in the nearby stream to facilitate its operations.
In August this year, the department’s Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Unit in Mpumalanga issued a pre-directive, giving the mine 21 days to comply.
This was followed by a directive in October, which the mine was given 14 days to comply; however, the mine remained defiant. The final directive instructed them to comply within 7 days or face the full might of the law. – SAnews.gov.za