'Abandoned mines without closure certificates create room for unlawful mining'

Illegal mining in abandoned gold mines poses environmental and health hazards.

Read: Illegal miners tunnelling near Joburg fuel pipes could cause explosion

Federation for Sustainable Environment chief executive officer Mariette Liefferink speaks to Bongani Bingwa about the risk illegal mining causes to the environment.

Many of the mining companies that are now in care and maintenance or those who have abandoned operations, or gone into liquidation, open the field for unlawful mining.

Mariette Liefferink, CEO - Federation for Sustainable Environment

Liefferink adds that there are many reasons for unregulated artisanal mining. One of the reasons is because the Department of Mineral Resources has not issued a single closure certificate for any mine within the Witwatersrand goldfields, she explains.

If a closer certificate is issued, then we would assume that the environmental impact would have been addressed. The water would have been made fit for use. Because no closure certificates have been issued, it opens the way for unlawful mining.

Mariette Liefferink, CEO - Federation for Sustainable Environment

She says in recent few months, the Mintails group has gone into liquidation and in its wake has left many problems.

Clusters of open pits, unrehabilitated footprints with residual radioactivity, partially reclaimed tailings dams and an unfunded environmental liability of R460m.

Mariette Liefferink, CEO - Federation for Sustainable Environment

Communities and local municipalities are bearing the impact of the liquidation and it has created an opportunity for unlawful miners to strip the gold treatment plants, Liefferink notes.

Not only is that being looted at the moment, but there are also armed gangs at the plant. They have also destroyed the electrical cable that feeds into the asset mine drainage treatment plan within the West Rand.

Mariette Liefferink, CEO - Federation for Sustainable Environment

Liefferink says often with mine tailing, storage facilities are unfenced and have no warning signs.

Because our mining operation activities are located close to densely populated communities, we find that children not only swim in the run-off from these storage facilities, but they also use these mine dumps for sand boarding.

Mariette Liefferink, CEO - Federation for Sustainable Environment

Listen below to the full interview:


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