Department of Mineral
Resources director-general
Sandile Nogxina
Pretoria, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 16 September 2010 – The South African government says companies that abandoned some 6 000 mines in the past may have to foot the bill for part of the R1.5 billion rand needed to repair the damage that their action caused.

Department of Mineral Resources director-general Sandile Nogxina has revealed that South Africa is planning to rehabilitate the environment in mining areas and to clean up acid mine drainage in a long-term plan. “The estimated cost for the 10-year rehabilitation plan is R1.456 billion, excluding inflation, for which the Department does not have funding,” Nogxina said in a statement.

The government’s initial plan is to deal with abandoned mines posing an immediate threat to communities, such as asbestos sites and open pits. “Those abandoned mines whose owners can be traced will be held responsible in terms of the law,” he said.

Nogxina said an inter-ministerial team had been formed to lead the programme to clean up old mines, and a technical committee involving local scientists was expected to produce a report for coordinating the exercise. He added that the government had been left to deal with the legacy of damage caused by mining, which had been taking place for more than a century.

South Africa is the world’s largest producer of platinum and ferrochrome, fourth-largest gold producer and a major producer of coal.