Kropz, which is developing the Elandsfontein phosphate mine near Hopefield in the Western Cape, says the West Coast Environmental Protection Association’s (WCEPA) application to have the mine’s water use license (WUL) suspended, if successful, will cause irreversible environmental damage.
“If over time we are not be able to continue to safely pump the water out of the Elandsfontein aquifer, around our open pit and allow it to filter back into the aquifer in accordance with our de-watering system design, the pit will flood,” explains Kropz technical director, Michelle Lawrence.
“If de-watering stops for an extended period, the pit will increase in size due to erosion of its sidewalls by the water; the volume of water in the pit will increase significantly; and the water quality will deteriorate, negatively impacting groundwater.”
Dr Fanie Botha, one of Kropz’s groundwater specialists, confirms Lawrence’s prognosis.
He adds that uncontrollable water loss from the enlarged pit due to evaporation would be another consequence and describes WCEPA’s moves as “illogical”.
“We have invested more than R6 million on ground water studies and the development and peer review of the groundwater model that informs our responsible management of the Elandsfontein aquifer’s water,” says Lawrence.
“Importantly, all groundwater monitoring we have done since we began the de-watering and recharge of the aquifer shows these actions are not having a negative impact on it.”
Feature image credit: Wikimedia