Challenge of AMD
The newly installed Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) pumps in the Witwatersrand area is expected to take the country a step closer in resolving the challenge of AMD.
AMD refers to the outflow of acidic water from metal mines or coal mines. The long history of mining in the Witwatersrand area has created the challenges faced by the country today.
Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and Mineral Resource Minister Susan Shabangu on Friday lowered the state-of-the-art pumps into the newly built Central Basin Pump Station in Witwatersrand.
The pumps will convey the AMD from deep in the mine void to the surface, where it will be treated and made safe for the environment.
The process will ensure that the AMD does not reach the environmental critical level, which is prescribed by legislation and will also guarantee the safety of the environment and people.
Minister Molewa said the installation of the AMD pumps was a short-term solution.
“The full project involves the establishment of a new AMD pump-station, an AMD neutralisation facility (high-density sludge AMD treatment), and treated water and waste sludge pipeline.
“When completed, this should provide a permanent solution for the treatment of AMD in this basin,” Minister Molewa said.
The minister said about R319 million will be used for constructing and installing acid mine drainage pumps, the treatment plant, and monitoring the shafts.
“Once in place and fully operational by end of April 2014, an average of 57 million litres of AMD per day will be treated and discharged into the Klipriver,” Minister Molewa said.
AMD project to address challenges
This initiative will ensure that underground AMD in the Central Basin is managed at a suitable level so as not to create adverse environmental and socio economic impacts.
Some of the challenges include AMD affecting the water system, polluting groundwater, fields and rivers. Indirect effects are that access to clean water can be reduced, the health and wellbeing of the community will be affected and the natural environment will be damaged.
However, as efforts are intensified to further manage the problem sustainably, a pro-active approach is required to prevent further duplication of the situation in other mining areas.
“We will continuously apply regulatory mechanisms for the adoption and implementation of long-term AMD/mine water management strategies by mining companies,” Minister Molewa said.
Mining houses, way forward
On the contribution by mining houses to the AMD, Minister Shabangu noted that government was dealing with the legacy of over 100 years.
“Mining comes from a past where there was no liability on mining companies as they continue to pollute, it’s only in 1991 when the Minerals Act was a liability imposed on mining companies. We can’t charge whoever is here for what happened in 1896.
“We are looking at forward movement on how we deal with this issue…we don’t license anymore, unless you have money,” Minister Shabangu said.
She added that that government is also dealing with the current law, which talks about concurrent rehabilitation, meaning that what they have in Witwatersrand can no longer happen in other parts of the country where mining happens.
“As you mine you have to continue to rehabilitate, releasing the land to be used whether for human consumption or agriculture,” Minister Shabangu said. – SAnews.gov.za