2005 Photograph of Sand Dump 20 in the background with the radioactive Robinson Lake in the foreground.
Sand Dump 20 with acid mine drainage prior to re-mining activities.
For the last 11 or 12 years Sand Dump 20 was reprocessed and residual gold extracted by Sibanye Stillwater and its predecessors.
In past and current dump reclamation activities, a number of cases have been identified where the re-mining of dumps was not completed, either due to a lack of funding on the part of the mining company (e.g. Mintails Mining SA and Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mining Company) or due to the heterogeneity in the dumps which were mined. Please see subjoined photographs.
Unrehabilitated footprints of re-mined dumps within the headwaters of the Wonderfonteinspruit
North Sands Dump where re-mining was not completed
The failure to remove the entire residue deposit, to rehabilitate the remaining footprint and to plough some of the value of the remining back into the rehabilitation of the entire mining area have exacerbated environmental impacts, such as dust fallout, acid mine drainage, and soil contamination (radiometric surveys over previously reprocessed mine residue deposit footprints have shown elevated levels of residual radioactivity in the soils). This has resulted in the externalisation of impacts to communities, the environment, local municipalities, neighbouring mines and future generations.
Sand Dump 20 has almost been completely removed by Sibanye Stillwater and sections of the footprint are in the process of rehabilitation.
The Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) - since 2007 - has included in its tours of the West Rand gold fields the inspection of the reprocessing activities of Sand Dump 20 with inter alia the World Health Organisation, the UN Special Rapporteur of Human Rights namely Prof. John Knox, the UNEP, international and national academic institutions such as the Harvard Law School, the Kiel and Siegen Universities, the IPPNW (a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate), international and national news media, Parliamentary Portfolio Committees, international and national NGOs, thousands of key stakeholders and community members, etc.
On Friday, the FSE planted the first indigenous trees (Ziziphus mucronata or Buffalo Thorn - Wag-'n-Bietjie Tree) on the rehabilitated footprint area of Sand Dump 20 as part of the seminar and tour with the Alumni Experts of the Universitat Siegen, and Sibanye Stillwater’s Arbor Day celebrations.