MINING (149)

THE FSE’s COMMENTS ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PLAN REPORT BLYVOOR GOLD MINING PROJECT

BVG 4880

 

Find the document attached for download.

FSE’s COMMENTS ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT REPORT FOR THE PROPOSED BLYVOOR GOLD MINE PROJECT NEAR CARLETONVILLE, WEST RAND, GAUTENG – please see attached. 

On Thursday, the 8th of November 2018, the North Gauteng High Court set aside the 2016 decisions of former Mineral Resources Minister Zwane and the late Environmental Affairs Minister Molewa to permit a new coal mine to be developed in the Mabola Protected Environment near Wakkerstroom, Mpumalanga.


The case was brought by the coalition of eight civil society organisations challenging a range of authorisations that have permitted an underground coal mine in a strategic water source area and a protected area.


The Mabola Protected Environment was declared under the Protected Areas Act in 2014 by the Mpumalanga provincial government as part of the declaration of more than 70 000 hectares of protected area in the Mpumalanga grasslands. This followed years of extensive research and planning by a number of government agencies, including the Department of Environmental Affairs, the South African National Biodiversity Institute and the Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks Agency.


In 2016, without public consultation and without notice to the coalition, the two Ministers gave their permission for a large, 15-year coal mine to be built inside the Mabola Protected Environment.


The Court set aside the permission and referred the decision back to the two Ministers for reconsideration on the basis that the Ministers did not take their decisions in an open and transparent manner or in a manner that promoted public participation, and that the decisions were therefore procedurally unfair.


The court criticised the Ministers for relying on the processes followed by other decision-makers instead of exercising their discretion under the Protected Areas Act independently, referring particularly to their failure to apply a cautionary approach when dealing with “sensitive, vulnerable, highly dynamic or stressed ecosystems” as “an impermissible abdication of decision-making authority”.


The court also held that: “a failure to take South Africa’s international responsibilities relation to the environment into account and a failure to take into account that the use and exploitation of non-renewable natural resources must take place in a responsible and equitable manner would not satisfy the ‘higher level of scrutiny’ necessary when considering whether mining activities should be permitted in a protected environment or not. Such failures would constitute a failure by the state of its duties as trustees of vulnerable environment, particularly where it has been stated that ‘most people would agree, when thinking of the tomorrows of unborn people that it is a present moral duty to avoid causing harm to the environment'” (at 11).


The permission for this mine given by Molewa and Zwane was the first in South Africa for a new mine to be permitted in a protected environment. Earthlife Africa, the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa (MEJCON-SA), the Endangered Wildlife TrustBirdLife South Africa, the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, the Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD), the Bench Marks Foundation and groundWork, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights, challenged the late Environmental Affairs’ Minister’s and the former Minerals Minister’s decisions to allow this mine to go ahead.


The court ordered that on reconsideration of the application for permission to mine in the Mabola Protected Environment, the Ministers are directed to:

  • comply with sections 3 and 4 of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA);
  • take into account the interests of local communities and the environmental principles referred to in section 2 of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) “with a strict measure of scrutiny”;
  • defer their decisions on reconsideration until after the Environmental Management Programme and Water Use Licence appeals have been determined;
  • not grant permission in terms of section 48(1)(b) of NEMPAA unless a management plan for the Mabola Protected Environment has been approved by the MEC in terms of section 39(2) of the Protected Areas Act and the management plan’s zoning of the area in which the intended mining is to take place permits such mining.


The High Court expressed its criticism of “a disturbing feature in the conduct of the Ministers” and endorsed the submission made by counsel for the coalition that “ethical environmental governance and behaviour is enhanced simply by exposing it to the glare of public scrunity”. What resulted was “an unjustifiable and unreasonable departure from the PAJA presripts and lead to procedurally unfair administrative action.” The High Court ordered the Ministers and MEC to pay the coalition’s legal costs on an attorney and client (punitive) scale.


“South Africa has long recognised that the grasslands of Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State are incredibly important to South Africa’s natural heritage. The grasslands are important water sources, and home to a range of production sectors that underpin economic development. In the case of Mabola, the Protected Environment falls inside a strategic water source area which feeds some of South Africa’s biggest rivers,” says Yolan Friedmann, Chief Executive Officer of the Endangered Wildlife Trust. “Moreover, protected areas not only help protect our biodiversity – particularly our incredible wildlife – and important natural ecosystems, but are also a key part of South Africa’s reputation as a global tourist destination.”


Mashile Phalane, spokesperson for the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa (MEJCON-SA) says: “This judgement is a victory for environmental justice. We want to see protected areas actually protected against mining by our government as custodians of the environment on behalf of all South Africans. This custodianship is violated if decisions that have such important consequences are taken behind closed doors. MEJCON-SA is deeply invested in issues of accountability. This judgement reinforces the fundamental importance of fair and transparent decision making.”


Catherine Horsfield, attorney and mining programme head at the Centre for Environmental Rights, welcomed the judgement. “It confirms to government and to all developers proposing heavily polluting projects in environmentally sensitive areas in South Africa that exceptional circumstances must be shown to exist to justify that proposed development. South Africa is a water-stressed country, and the Mabola Protected Environment, where the coal mine would be located, has particular hydrological significance for the country as a whole.


“The judgement also confirms the foundational principles of our law that went awry when the Ministers made their decisions to permit mining here. These are that no decision of this magnitude can be made unless a fair, proper and transparent decision making process has been followed.”

 

THE NEMPAA JUDGEMENT IS ATTACHED FOR DOWNLOAD.

Mabola NEMPAA Judgement 8 November 2018

Thursday, 08 November 2018 20:25

Mabola NEMPAA Judgement 8 November 2018.

 

Document attached for download.

 

Draft report of the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources on its oversight visit North West and Gauteng on the 13 – 14 September 2018.

Find the pdf attached for download.

The SAHRC launched its Report on the National Hearing on the Underlying Socio-economic Challenges of Mining-affected Communities in South Africa on the 22nd of August 2018.

The FSE participated in the Hearing and many of its issues of concern are addressed in the Report.

The Report may be opened here as a PDF document.

Liquidation leaves a R330-million environmental mess for Gauteng residents, government and other mining companies to clean up. Mark Olalde investigates

 By Charlotte Mathews -

July 27, 2018

Mine dump near Soweto

ALL West Wits really wants is “a fair go” at mining responsibly, chairman Michael Quinert said on Thursday.

He was addressing a media briefing to “bust some myths” that have arisen in local media about the ASX-listed group’s plans to mine for gold from open pits and underground near the suburbs of Florida in Roodepoort and Meadowlands East in Soweto.

Local residents have formed action groups to fight West Wits’ application for a mining licence, expressing concerns about noise, dust, and water pollution.

This is a very degraded area – a “moonscape”, in Quinlan’s own words – as a result of past mining. West Wits’ 6,000 hectare site is surrounded by old dumps which are tainting air and water and overrun by illegal miners or zama-zamas.

The legacy of Mintails, another ASX-listed company that treated dumps near Krugersdorp and Randfontein, lingers in popular memory. Mintails was put into business rescue about three years ago, with huge unfunded environmental liabilities.

Communities are opposed to West Wits’ plans because of the legacy they are experiencing from past gold mining, Mariette Liefferink, CEO of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) and a well-known local environmental activist, said.

“Mintails left behind massive open pits with no fences or warning signs. Communities are no longer under-educated about the impact of mining and they have seen no medium to longer term benefits, only that future generations will inherit an irreparably destroyed ecosystem, acid mine drainage and dust from tailings storage dams,” she said.

Quinert said West Wits’ assets were never owned by Mintails.

The only connection between the companies was that Mintails held a stake in West Wits which was sold about a decade ago. Although it has no interest in taking over Mintails’ assets as dump processing is not its strategy, West Wits has an interest with other businesses in the area in addressing the problem of the dumps around its site and is making constructive suggestions on how to address it.

West Wits believes by mining responsibly it can help to clean up the area by extracting the near-surface gold that is attracting artisanals and then sealing up the shafts that they are using to go underground.

But some locals have argued that West Wits’ plans are threatening the livelihood of the zama-zamas and it would be a better solution to legalise them and allow them to mine on this site – or at least employ them.

Quinert strongly disagreed.

He said although the zama-zamas were good at finding the reef, they operated in a lawless universe, working hard and drinking hard, which did not make them ideal employees. “We do not believe they are good for the economy. They are too difficult to licence and regulate,” he said.

BLASTING PROMISES

West Wits is targeting a resource of about 3.7 million ounces showing an average grade of 3.6g/t to a cut-off depth of 400 metres. It plans to extract gold from various open pits, each with a life of six to eight months before it will be re-filled, for the first five years and then move underground from years six to 30. Profits from open pit mining will be used to fund underground development.

Although West Wits is being blamed for blasting in the area, this is coming from a dynamite factory nearby and some artisanal activity, Quinert said. Open pit mining will not entail any blasting. West Wits will use a new technology called an Xcentric Ripper, which is attached to an excavator, and is about 30% quieter than a rock hammer.

At this stage it is likely to blast once it goes underground in year six, if it cannot use the Ripper, but he expects those blasts will be too deep to be felt in surrounding residential areas.

There will be no crushing or processing on site. West Wits will use the spare processing capacity in the area owned by companies like Sibanye. It will truck its ore to the processors and is working with property developers to take ore roads away from houses. There will be no tailings dam on this site.

In its submission, the FSE suggested the most practicable solution would not be more open pit or deep underground mining, which creates risks for surrounding communities, but reclamation of the tailings storage facilities that belong to Mintails.

BOJANALA EMF PES OF RIVERS AND DAMS - SUBMISSION BY FSE

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT ECOLOGICAL STATUS OF THE RIVERS AND DAMS WITHIN THE CROCODILE WEST/LIMPOPO WATER MANAGEMENT AREA

The Reserve, which has priority over other water uses, provides for two components; (1) basic human needs, ensuring that the essential needs of individuals served by the water resource directly are provided for; and (2) the ecological reserve ensuring that the water required to protect aquatic ecosystems of the water resources is provide for.  Providing for the ecological water requirements is a legal priority. Implementation of the Ecological Reserve is expected to result in serious deficits in the Crocodile West/Limpopo Water Management Area.

The overall present ecological status of this Water Management Area[1] is a D/E category[2] due to industrial (including current mining activities), domestic and commercial effluents, sewage, dysfunctional Waste Water Treatment Works’ (WWTWs), agricultural run-off and litter, over-abstraction of groundwater and eutrophication problems.  Much of the area has low rainfall with significant inter-dependencies for water resources between catchments and with neighbouring Water Management Areas, e.g. the Vaal.

A large part of future potential mining is in areas of water scarcity.   In some areas water is already ‘flowing’ from agriculture to mining.  The biggest impact of mines is on water quality -a threat to the resource that cannot be brushed away.

The DWS’ Report on the Classification of Significant Water Resources in the Crocodile (West) Marico WMA and Matlabas and Mokolo Catchments:  Limpopo WMA and the DWS’ Business Case for the Limpopo CMA (September 2013) show a dramatic increase in water demands in this Area as a result of:

  1. Current mining activities and proposed mining activities
  2. Sasol’s proposed Maphuta coal to liquid fuel projects
  3. The exploitation of the vast coal reserves in the Waterberg;
  4. The expansion of the Grootegeluk mine to supply the new Medupi Power Station with coal; and
  5. Matimba and Medupi - three new Eskom power stations in the future

Many of the rivers in this Water Management Area host important wetland systems, freshwater ecosystem priority areas and are important for water supply and biodiversity.

Poor water quality does not only affect associated sediments and aquatic life, but has an effect on terrestrial ecosystems and the economy as well.  Polluted water may also pose health threats to recreational and domestic water.

Quantity of water is inextricably linked to water quality.  Polluted water is not treated at source but is allowed to flow into rivers.  South Africa is a water poor country with only 8.6% of its rainfall being available as surface water.  There is therefore no opportunity for the dilution of polluted water.

The DWS developed the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, the classification of water resources, the determination of Resource Quality Objectives and the determination of the Reserve for the major water management areas such as the Crocodile West/Limpopo and Vaal Water Management Areas, the National Water and Sanitation Water Quality Strategy and Policy, the Mine Water Management Policy, etc. All these plans, strategies and policies exist in vain if they are not delivered through action and through the recognition that “you cannot drink paper plans”. 

PRESENT ECOLOGICAL STATUS OF THE MOKOLO, MATLABAS, CROCODILE (WEST) AND MARICO CATCHMENTS IN THE LIMPOPO NORTH WEST WATER MANAGEMENT AREA[3]

Upper Hennops and Rietvlei Rivers to inflow to Rietvlei Dam

This is a threatened system.  It includes wetland freshwater ecosystem priority areas, pans, peatlands and valley bottom wetlands. The present ecological status of the river is a D/E category due to urbanisation, return flows and poor water quality.  The river reach is significantly impacted by agricultural activities, industrial and urban effluent discharges.

The aquifer is highly impacted by land based activities and pollution.

Rietvlei Dam

This dam supplies Tshwane with raw water.  Water quality impacts remain a threat to the system. Flow into the dam is supported by Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) discharges. The dam is located within the Rietvlei Nature reserve, which is an important protected area. The Rietvlei wetland system is situated immediately upstream of the Rietvlei Dam within the Rietvlei Dam Nature Reserve. The wetland is a peatland.

Hennops River from outflow Rietvlei Dam to the A21B catchment (including Sesmylspruit, Kaalspruit and Olifantspruit tributaries)

This system is degraded owing to upstream waste water treatment works (WWTW).  Includes the Sesmylspruit, Kaalspruit and Olifantspruit tributaries. The present ecological status of the river is a D/E category due to urbanisation, return flows and poor water quality.

Upper Pienaars River, Edendalespruit and Moretlele Rivers to Roodeplaat Dam

This system supports the supply of water to Roodeplaat Dam. Abstraction by Magalies Water indirectly tunnel (used by Tshwane). This system is degraded owing to upstream waste water treatment works (WWTW).  The present ecological status of the river is a E category due to urbanisation, return flows and poor water quality. FEPA wetlands are present. The system is overall degraded with a present

Upper Crocodile/Hennops/Hartebeespoort

This dam is eutrophic with algal blooms impacting on the taste of the water. The dam is depended upon for the supply of raw water. It is a conservation area, and supports a wide range of recreational activities (international training for canoeists during summer). Toxic algal blooms are present. Severely impacted by WWTWs discharges, urbanisation and industrial effluent. 

Upper and middle reaches of Apies River, Skinnerspruit, Pienaars River from outflow Roodeplaat Dam to Boekenhoutpruit confluence, Roodeplaatspruit, Boekenhoutspruit

The upper parts of the catchment are impacted by urbanization, irrigation runoff and WWTWs. The Ecological Importance and Sensitivity (EIS) is high.

Jukskei, Klein Jukskei, Modderfonteinspruit

It includes the headwaters of Jukskei. WWTWs located both upstream and downstream of these systems which includes the transfers for Mokolo (Lephalale). The systems are highly impacted from nutrient input thus threatening the biotic integrity of the systems. Serious water quality problems exist as the river is severely impacted by WWTWs discharges (from nine WWTWs), urbanisation and industrial effluent. The present ecological status is an E category.

Upper reaches of Crocodile River and Bloubank Spruit

This is the headwaters of the Crocodile River. Tourism activities are high. Water users include agriculture. The serious threat to the system is mining and the high salinity from the neutralised AMD from the western basin. The Tweelopiespruit flows into the Bloubankspruit and forms part of the Krugersdorp Game Reserve and the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.  The groundwater is heavily impacted by historic mine dewatering and historic discharges of acid mine drainage (AMD) into Tweelopiespruit and further downstream. Percy Stewart and Randfontein WWTWs discharge into this river system.

Radioactive pollution has been identified. There is also excessive sedimentation of the rivers, and aquatic weed infestation. 

IUA 3 – Crocodile/Rooodekopjes

Crocodile River from outflow Hartebeespoort Dam to inflow Roodekopjes Dam, Rosespruit, Ramogatla and Kareespruit

The water resources are in a degraded state owing to the changes in the flow regime as a result of the Hartebeestpoort Dam just upstream. Madibeng and Magalies Water are dependent on this reach for water supply for consumers.  The Rosespruit and Kareespruit are have water quality impacts (degradation due to mining impacts, informal settlements, irrigation return flows, industrial, chrome smelters).  There are impacts from the Brits area as well. Hyacinth growth observed in the Crocodile river below Brits. Encroachment and sedimentation is extensive.

Roodekopjes Dam

Dam is a source of domestic water supply (25% allocated to Magalies water – transfer to Vaalkop via canal). T Impacted by surrounding activities (irrigation, mining and industrial).

Hex/Waterkloofspruit/Vaalkop

Sterkstroom from outflow Buffelspoort Dam to inflow Roodekopjes Dam, Maretwane, Tshukutswe 

Area forms part of the Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve. Resources are impacted by mining activities, settlements along the river and WWTWs discharges. 

Olifantsnek Dam

Some water quality impacts are present in the dam.

Hex River outflow Olifantsnek Dam to inflow Bospoort Dam, Sandspruit

The water resources of the Hex River have been degraded due to the Olifanstsnek, Bospoort and Vaalkop Dams situated on the river. Rustenburg and extensive mining and agriculture in the middle reaches of the catchment further impacts on the water resources, both quality and quantity. Further impacts include urbanisation, irrigation return flows and discharges from WWTWs.

Bospoort Dam

Poor water quality currently present in the dam.

Hex River outflow Bospoort Dam to inflow Vaalkop Dam

The water resources of the Hex River have been degraded due to the Olifantsnek, Bospoort and Vaalkop Dams situated on the river, as well as upstream impacts. This reach includes localised subsistence use, game farms and domestic water supply. High conductivity observed. Impacts also due to settlements along river. 

Vaalkop Dam

Magalies Water has requested more releases from Bospoort and Olifantsnek Dam to improve water quality in Vaalkop dam.  Need to improve drinking water quality.  Water quality is impacted due to industrial pollution, return flows, mining impacts, nutriennts (eutrophication).

Elands/Vaaalkop

Upper reaches of Elands to Swartruggens Dam

Some sedimentation due to slate mining. Flow impacts present and poor sanitation is also impact on river system.

Elands river downstream Swartruggens Dam to Lindleyspoort Dam

This reach of the Elands River is located below dam. The reach is impacted upon by the WWTWs, urban activities, and diamond mining. Water quality deterioration is observed.

Lindleyspoort Dam

The upstream impacts include WWTWs.

Upper Koster to Koster Dam, Rooikloofspruit

Impacts include WWTWs, intensive cattle and poultry farming and unauthorised abstraction.

Elands River outflow Lindleyspoort Dam to inflow Vaalkop Dam, Brakkloofspruit, Roosspruit, Sandspruit Mankwe. Leragane, Molapongwamongana

The Mankwe tributary is protected in the Plianesburg National Park. These rivers are however surrounded by mining activities on Leragane (impacted). Tanneries are present in the town.  WWTWs discharges impact on water quality.

Klein Marico

Upper Klein Marico to inflow Klein Maricopoort dam, Rhenosterfonteinspruit, Malmanieloop, Kareespruit

Impacts on Kareespruit from WWTW, irrigation and over abstraction. Mining activities are present. Groundwater: Significantly impacted by bulk groundwater abstractions for municipal supplies; thus quantity and due to agricultural activities, quality may become an issue in future.

Klein Maricopoort Dam

Water quality impacts present.

Klein Marico downstream Klein Maricopoort Dam to Kromellenboog Dam, Wilgeboomspruit

Impacts include irrigation and over abstraction. Poor water quality due to irrigation return flows.

Kromellenboog Dam

Dam is impacted by upstream siltation, erosion, and nutrients.

Groot Marico

Groot Marico, Polkadraaispruit

There is mine prospecting activities in the area and some settlements forming part of the town of Marico, agricultural activities present. Water quality is impacted in the lower reaches of the Marico river.

Kaloog-se-Loop

Marico Eye, Kaaloog-se-Loop, Bokkraal-se-Loop, Ribbokfontein-se-Loop, Rietspruit (southern eye), Kuilsfontein,  Syferfontein and Bronkhorstfontein

Groundwater: Large abstractions for mining, agriculture and municipal supplies - current problems with high groundwater level recession rates in the Lichtenburg Area. There are some sedimentation impacts due to mining in the area.  Mine prospecting is also underway.

Malmaniesloop

Malmanie Eye, Dolomites

Groundwater: Huge impact on groundwater sustainability due to growing demand for municipal and

Bodibe Eye (Polfonteinspruit and Lotlhakane tributary catchment area)

High groundwater abstraction in the area resulting in a decrease in groundwater which has further resulted in spontaneous combustion underground and the peatland oxidised and been burning for several years now, resulting in a loss of the peatland, and poses a health and safety hazard for people and livestock.  Impacts include urban and settlement activities and cement mining.  Serious depletion of groundwater levels in this area (~25m) due to over-utilisation. Large eyes (springs) already impacted and dry.

Molopo Eye, Grootfontein Eye, Molopo headwaters to inflow Modimola dam

Impacts include a cement factory and urban development (Mahikeng).  Groundwater resources and wetlands are priority (unchannelled valleybottom wetlands and peatlands). The Molopo eye is a peatland and important for water supply and biodiversity support. Grootfontein aquifer not productive anymore, and all Mahikeng's water is sourced from Molopo's Eye, thus it is vital that the flow is maintained. Recreational activity in the area is also impacting on the eye.

Molopo River mainstem only from Modimola Dam to Disaneng Dam

Highly impact from urban settlement in Mahikeng which has resulted in a E present ecological status  category.  Serious problem with water pollution in Mahikeng and catchment of the Modimole Dam (WWTWs). Important wetland systems are present in this reach.

Setumo (Modimola) Dam

The WWTWs of Mahikeng is located just upstream of the dam which is impacting on the dam water quality. Poor water quality.

Dinaseng Dam

Discharge from Dinaseng for downstream trans-boundary use (into Botswana) is important.

Dinokana Eye/Ngotwane Dam

Upper  Nogotwane, Donokana Eye

Two important wetland systems occur namely the Dinokana eye and Ngotwana wetland (high biodiversity wetland in semi-arid climate with its source in Botswana) which both supply water for livelihood support for people, livestock and wildlife. Groundwater priority area. Groundwater related subsistence use. Water balance in this area is a concern as this is a sole-aquifer system for Dinokana and Zeerust. Water level of eye has dropped due to over abstraction.

Ngotwane Dam

Limited irrigation and supports downstream domestic water supply for villages.  Dam is impacted from WWTWs discharge from Botswana. Water quality is a threat.

Groot Marico/ Molatedi Dam

Groot Marico from outflow Marico Bosveld Dam to Molatedi Dam, all tributaries

The land area is degraded due to over grazing and development. Smaller dams are present on the tributaries supplying water to local communities (Pella Dam, Madikwe, Sehujane Dam). Water quality must be protected. 

Molatedi Dam

Releases are made in respect of meeting the international obligations with Botswana and for downstream

Groot Marico/ Seasonal tributaries

Groot Marico mainstem, outflow Molatedi Dam, Rasweu, Maselaje rivers

Impacts are primarily as a result of the Molatedi Dam upstream and the release pattern from the Tswasa Weir for irrigation purposes. Tributaries are mostly dry, recently there has been no releases made for Botswana. Riparian zone is heavily grazed. High sedimentation following rainfall events due to heavy erosion and overgrazing.

Bierspruit

 

Wilgespruit, Bofule, Kolobeng, Magoditshane, Motlhabe

Area is very important from an ecotourism point of view (includes the Pilansberg National Park). The water quality is degraded due to mining activities, town development and irrigation in the catchment.  Severe water quality impacts on the some of the tributaries, viz. Mothlabe and Wilgespruit. Water quality must be addressed.

Bierspruit outflow Bierspruit Dam to confluence with the Crocodile River, Brakspruit, Phufane, Sefatlhane, Lesobeng, lower reach Bofule

The water quality is degraded due to platinum mining, town development (sewage effluent), irrigation

Lower Crocodile

Crocodile River outflow Roodekopjes Dam to upstream Sand River confluence, Sleepfonteinspruit, Klipspruit tributaries

Return flows are a major impact on the system. 

Proximity of mines to the aquifers could lead to dewatering of the aquifer.

Sand River to confluence with the Crocodile River to Bierspruit confluence, Sondags, Vaalwaterspruit

Irrigation return flows are a major impact.

Lower Crocodile from Bierspruit confluence to the Botswana border (Limpopo River)

The Thabazimbi WWTW discharges impacts on the water quality of the Crocodile River. 

There are also mining activities in the area.

Tolwane/Kulwane/Moretele/Klipvoor

Apies River, Tshwane tributary

Water quality issues are prevalent, due to localised and upstream urban impacts.

Pienaars River from Boekenshout confluence to Apies River confluence

Magalies Water abstracts water for domestic supply on Boekenshoutspruit (klipdrift). The area includes sprawling peri-urban villages. Land use impacts include catlle in river habitat, and impacts from solid waste and sewage effluent. Important resource for the adjacent community.

Moretele (Pienaars) River from Plat River confluence to Klipvoor Dam, Kutswane to Klipvoor Dam

Water quality impacts are primarily a result of urbanization, specifically deterioration in water quality due to WWTWs discharges.

Currently too much water is released from the Rietgat WWTW.

 Pienaars River from Klipvoor Dam to Crocodile Riverconfluence, Tolwane tributary

 The rivers are impacted by urban development and irrigated agriculture. The Tolwane river is significantly impacted.  The rivers are impacted by high nutrient levels and eutrophication is evident. Extensive sand mining is also occurring in the area (largely unauthorised).

Upper Mokolo

Moloko River , Sand River and Klein Sand,  Brakspruit, Sondagsloop, Heuningspruit, Dwars, Jim se loop tributaries

The main impact on the water resource is irrigation return flows, WWTWs discharge from town and piggeries. The area is important as it plays a role as a corridor for fish (FEPA rivers). Important fish include CPRE, AURA and AMOS (flow dependent and water quality dependent fish species). Extensive wetland systems occur in the Sand River catchment which form important habitat for Blue Cranes. Important valley bottom and hillslope wetlands present forming part of the Waterberg system (unique combination of flora and faunal associations).

Mokolo River to inflow Mokolo Dam,  Taaibosspruit, Malmanies and Bulspruit tributaries

Water quality issues present due to septic tanks used by the game lodges.

Grootspruit and Sandspruit tributaries (Mokolo headwater catchment)

The main impact on the water resource is irrigation return flows and WWTWs discharge from town of Alma.  Extensive wetland systems occur in the area coupled with the area being a fish support area.  Important habitat for Blue Cranes (which have been identified within the Sand River catchment).

Sandloop

Catchment area includes the Medupi and Matimba power stations, Grootegeluk coal mine, Maropong and Lephalale towns. Impacts on this system include coal mining, the power stations, coal bed methane extraction, impacts from the towns as well as agriculture. Water quality impacts are a concern, with deterioration observed.  Serious impacts of local groundwater resources due to dewatering and future acid mine drainage discharges.

Mokolo mainstem - Mokolo from below EWR3 to the Tamboti confluence

Major sand mining is occurring within the Mokolo mainstem catchment. This has resulted in siltation and loosening of substrate.

Mokolo mainstem - from Tamboti confluence to Limpopo

Abstraction activities is high in this mainstem with sand mining being a considerable issue in the Lepahlale area.

Matlabas

Matlabas River

This area has been earmarked for future coal mining developments. FEPA wetlands are present. Migratory corridor to the Limpopo for the bird species. There is the Matlabas peatland/mire and valleybottom wetlands present.

Catchment area including Steenbokpan

The Steenbokpan area has been earmarked for future coal mining in this area.

 

[1] The catchment areas lie predominately within the North West Province and include the northern part of Gauteng as well as the south-western portion of the Limpopo Province. Towards the north west the area borders on Botswana. The main river systems within the catchment (Crocodile, Marico, Mokolo and Matlabas rivers) flow northwards to join the Limpopo River. Major tributary systems include the Pienaars, Apies, Moretele, Hennops, Jukskei, Magalies, Elands, Klein Marico, Molopo, and Ngotwane rivers.

The Pilanesburg Nature Reserve, the Cradle of Humankind Heritage Site, the Marakele Nature Reserve, the Bafokeng Tribal area, the dolomitic wetland or eye systems and large dams such as the Hartbeespoort, Vaalkop, Roodekopjes, Klipvoor, Roodeplaat, Molatedi and Mokolo Dams are all very important features in the catchment area. The Pilanesburg Nature Reserve, the Cradle of Humankind Heritage Site and Hartbeespoort Dam are key tourist attractions in South Africa.

[2] A D-Category indicates a largely modified river system and an E category indicates a seriously modified resource.

[3] Reference:  Determination of Resource Quality Objectives in the Mokolo, Matlabas, Crocodile (West) And Marico Catchments in the Limpopo North West Water Management Area (WMA 01) Resource Quality Objectives And Numerical Limits Report Report No.: RDM/WMA01/00/CON/RQO/0516. 2016.

FSE's SUBMISSION PURSUANT TO THE MINUTES OF THE FPR AND NEMLA BILL STAKEHOLDER MEETING HELD ON 24 MAY 2018

We refer to the Minutes of the Stakeholder Meeting which was held on the 24May 2018 pertaining to the proposed FPR and NEMLA Bill.

The following article has relevance to the FPR and NEMLA Bill.

The article may be opened here as a PDF document.

With about 6,000 abandoned mines across South Africa, regulators are searching for answers to irresponsible mine closure. Mark Olalde reports

Original article can be found here

MINING

Notification of the Withdrawal of the Application of an Amendment of the Environmental Authorisation and Environmental Management Programme for the Sweet Sensation Sand Mining Operation in Free State

The concerted efforts and submissions to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), the Applicant and its appointed Environmental Assessment Practitioner (EAP) by the Protect Vaal Eden Committee, Vaal Eden community, and the Federation for a Sustainable Environment have resulted in the withdrawal of the application of an amendment of the environmental authorisation and environmental management programme for the Sweet Sensation Sand Mining operation adjacent to the Vaal River.  The EAP was notified by the DMRE that further specialist studies would be required to determine the impact the application for a screening plant and process would have on the environment and that a Regulation 31 amendment process, which involves a public participation process, must be undertaken.  The FSE welcomes the DMRE’s notification. Notification letter attached for download

Pelicam Award for Jozi Gold

The Pelicam Film Festival in Rumania has awarded Jozi Gold a Special Mention.  ...

PRESS RELEASE: REPORT BY SOMO - MINTAILS' STRATEGIES OF DISENGAGEMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA

Mind the Gap consortium launched the new website www.mindthegap.ngo featuring fi...

SA NEWS

"Varkies" gou op hok, maar als nie pluis | Beeld

Article also available for download as an attachment.

Radon Alert - Carte Blanche

Millions of South Africans are exposed to radioactive radon gas in their homes and workplaces every day, as the naturally occurring gas escapes through cracks in the earth. The second leading cause of lung cancer in several countries, radon breaks down and when inhaled, decaying atoms emit alpha radiation that can damage the DNA. There are no safe levels of radon concentration. The United States Environmental Protection Agency emphasises any radon exposure has some risk of causing lung cancer. Carte Blanche investigates why South Africa has no regulations to protect against radon accumulation in the home and what you can do to test your home and prevent lung cancer.   Watch the video here.

WITS Economics & Finance Courses: Mining for Development: The Taxation Linkage

Economics & Finance Courses at the University of the Witwatersrand. Mining for Development: The Taxation Linkage - Understand taxation for development and sustainability in mining. View the course here. Enrolment starts on the 7th of October 2019.

Mining activists in SA face death threats, intimidation and harassment - report

SATURDAY STAR | 19 APRIL 2019, 7:41PM | SHEREE BEGA Picture:Yvette Descham On August 13 2013, Billy M heard gunshots at the gate of his house. He didn't know who fired the gun, and, worried that local traditional leadership might be involved, he didn't report the incident to the police. For the next five years, the community activist from Fuleni, a small rural village in KwaZulu-Natal bordering one of SA's oldest and largest wilderness areas, the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, continued to receive threats.  "We know our lives are in danger. This is part of the struggle," he says, simply. Billy M's account is contained in a new report released this week, 'We know Our  Lives Are in Danger’: Environment of Fear in South Africa’s Mining-Affected Communities, which documents how community activists in mining areas face harassment, intimidation and violence. The report details how in Billy M's case, mining company Ibutho Coal had applied for rights to develop a coal mine in Fuleni in 2013. The development would have required the relocation of hundreds of people from their homes and farmland and destroy graveyards. "The mine's environmental impact assessment estimated that more than 6000 people living in the Fuleni area would be impacted. Blasting vibration, dust, and floodlights, too, could harm the community," says the report."During the environmental consultation processes, Billy M led opposition that culminated in a protest by community members in April 2016."The company reportedly abandoned the project in 2016 while another firm, Imvukuzane Resources is reportedly interested in mining in the area.The 74-page report, compiled by Human Rights Watch, the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), groundWork, and Earthjustice, describes a system designed to "deter and penalise" mining opponents.The authors conducted interviews with more than 100 activists, community leaders, environmental groups, lawyers representing activists, police and municipal officials, describing the targeting of community rights defenders in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Northwest, and Eastern Cape between 2013 and 2018. They report intimidation, violence, damage to property, the use of excessive force during peaceful protests, and arbitrary arrest for their activities in highlighting the negative impacts of mining projects on their communities. "The attacks and harassment have created an atmosphere of fear for community members who mobilise to raise concerns about damage to their livelihoods from the serious environmental and health risks of mining and coal-fired power plants," write the authors."Women often play a leading role in voicing these concerns, making them potential targets for harassment and attacks."But municipalities often impose barriers to protest on organisers that have no legal basis while government officials have failed to adequately investigate allegations of abuse."Some mining companies resort to frivolous lawsuits and social media campaigns to further curb opposition to their projects.  The government has a Constitutional obligation to protect activists," write the authors. Picture: Shayne Robinson, Section 27 Authorities should address the environmental and health concerns related to mining "instead of harassing the activists voicing these concerns,” remarks Matome Kapa, attorney at the CER.The report starts with the high-profile murder of activist Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, who was killed at his home after receiving anonymous death threats in 2016. Rhadebe was the chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC), a community-based organisation formed in 2007 to oppose mining activity in Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape.  "Members of his community had been raising concerns that the titanium mine that Australian company Mineral Commodities Ltd proposed to develop on South Africa’s Wild Coast would displace the community and destroy their environment, traditions, and livelihoods. More than three years later, the police have not identified any suspects in his killing."Nonhle Mbuthuma, another Xolobeni community leader and spokesperson of the ACC, has also faced harassment and death threats from unidentified individuals. "I know I am on the hit list.… If I am dying for the truth, then I am dying for a good cause. I am not turning back," she says.But other mining areas have had experiences similar to that of Xolobeni. "While Bazooka’s murder and the threats against Nonhle have received domestic and international attention, many attacks on activists have gone unreported or unnoticed both within and outside the  country."This is, in part, because of "fear of retaliation for speaking out, and because police sometimes do not investigate the attacks", the authors found.The origin of these attacks or threats are often unknown. "So are the perpetrators, but activists believe they may have been facilitated by police, government officials, private security providers, or others apparently acting on behalf of mining companies. "Threats and intimidation by other community members against activists often stem from a belief that activists are preventing or undermining an economically-beneficial mining project. In some cases, government officials or representatives of companies deliberately drive and exploit  these community divisions, seeking to isolate and stigmatize those opposing the mine."The Minerals Council South Africa, which represents 77 mining companies, including some in the research areas, responded that it “is not aware of any threats or attacks against community rights defenders where (its) members operate”.The authors state that while the mining sector and the government emphasise how mining is essential for economic development, "they fail to acknowledge that mining comes at a high environmental and social cost, and often takes place without adequate consultation with,or consent of, local communities".The absence of effective government oversight means that mining activities have harmed the rights of communities across South Africa in various ways. "Such activities have depleted water supplies, polluted the air, soil, and water, and destroyed arable land and ecosystems."Researchers also documented cases of police misconduct, arbitrary arrest, and excessive use of force during protests in mining-affected communities, "which is part of a larger pattern in South Africa".Last year, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at Wits University documented various efforts by traditional authorities to stifle opposition to mines in their communities. "In some cases, traditional authorities label those opposing mines as anti-development and troublemakers, thus alienating and stigmatising them.As a result, community members are often afraid to speak out against a mine in open consultations," CALS found.Research by the SA Human Rights Commission, too, has found that community members sometimes “are afraid to openly oppose the mine for fear of intimidation or unfavourable treatment (by the Traditional Authority)."The SAHRC says many mining-affected communities are experiencing “the creation of tension and division within communities as a result of mining operations.Sometimes, threats and intimidation against activists come from community members who have been promised economic benefit from the proposed project or are politically allied with the government or traditional authority."Local communities often do not benefit from mining activities, says the report. "Although South African law requires the development of social and labour plans (SLPs) that establish binding commitments by mining companies to benefit communities and mine workers, CALS has documented significant flaws in the development and implementation of SLPs."Despite the environmental and social costs of mining, the government is not adequately enforcing relevant environmental standards and mining regulations throughout South Africa. The SAHRC has found that the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) often fails to hold mining companies accountable, "imposing few or no consequences for unlawful activities and therefore shifting the costs of pollution to local communities."Compliance with regulatory obligations, as well as monitoring and enforcement of such responsibilities, remains a crucial concern in the context of mining activities," says the SAHRC, noting how the DMR and other governmental agencies often do not respond to complaints filed against mines by community members.The report's authors describe how the lack of government action and oversight has also helped make the mining industry one of the least transparent industries in South Africa. Information that communities require to understand the impacts of mines and to hold mining companies accountable for harmful activities is often not publicly available. "Such information includes environmental authorisations, environmental management programs, waste management licences, atmospheric emission licences, mining rights, mining work programmes, social and labour plans, or compliance and enforcement information."The only way to access such information is through a request under South Africa’s access to information law, a procedure that the World Health Organisation has called 'seriously flawed' and which the DMR regularly flouts. In addition, mining companies and the government rarely consult meaningfully with communities during the mining approval process, resulting in uninformed and poor government and industry decisions that do not reflect community perspectives or have their support," says the report.The authors assert how the threats, attacks, and other forms of intimidation against community rights defenders and environmental groups have created an environment of fear "that prevents mining opponents from exercising their rights to freedom of opinion, expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and undermines their ability to defend themselves from the threats of mining".In its November 2018 review of South Africa’s compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed concern about “reports of human rights defenders, particularly those working to promote and defend the rights under the Covenant in the mining and environmental sectors, being threatened and harassed". It recommended that South Africa provide a safe and favourable environment for the work of human rights defenders to promote and protect economic, social, and cultural rights, including by "ensuring that all reported cases of intimidation, harassment, and violence against human rights defenders are promptly and thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators are brought to justice". Mining activist Mariette Liefferink, who made submissions to the UN committee, tells how it has become increasingly difficult to work as an environmental rights defender in South Africa.   "There is an overwhelming body of evidence of intimidation, whether it is by means of frontal attacks or more insidious attacks on activists."International and South African law requires South Africa to guarantee the rights of all people to life, security, freedoms of opinion, expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and the rights to health and a healthy environment, say the authors."The attacks, threats, and obstacles to peaceful protest described in this report prevent many community activists in South Africa from exercising these rights to oppose or raise concerns about mines, in violation of South Africa’s obligations." 

WATER

Development of the National Eutrophication Strategy and Supporting Documents

Attached documents:1. DWS Eutrophication SA & GA PSC 1 BID2. PSC 1 Meeting Agenda - Eutrophication Strategy3. Issues and Response Register - Inception Report Comments

Fears of long term damage to SA's water supply as eutrophication strangles rivers and dams | IOL

Toxic green algae in the Vaal River is caused by eutrophication, which harms wat...