The Department of Water Affairs (DWA) has committed R319 million to tackling acid mine drainage (AMD), inserting two pumps into the Witwatersrand Central basin AMD facility on Friday at a star-studded event attended by the media, several MEC’s from various provinces and Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu.

Speaking at the event, Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said “We have come to lower these state of the art pumps into the newly built pump station which will convey the acid mind drainage from deep in the mine void to the surface where it will be treated and made safe for the environment. This process will ensure that the AMD does not reach the environmental critical level, which is prescribed by our legislation, and will also guarantee the safety of the environment and the people.”

This will be followed by the construction and installation of a fully-fledged facility, expected to be operational by the end of April. The facility will treat about 57 million litres of AMD on a daily basis before discharging the water into the Klip River.

“The full project involves the establishment of a new AMD pump-station, an AMD neutralisation facility with high-density sludge AMD treatment, and treated water and waste sludge pipeline. When completed, this should provide a permanent solution for the treatment of AMD in this basin.”

Nevertheless, the installation of the acid mine drainage (AMD) pumps are only a temporary solution, since the high salt content of the treated water will still need to be desalinated. “We are confident that we will have begun to implement a long-term solution by 2015/16,” Molewa said.

Water resources are currently under pressure in South Africa, and the environmental damage that has been caused in the gold mining in the Witwatersrand region in the form of AMD will require decades to overcome. “AMD is a legacy that the law can only control now. Miners are no longer allowed to pollute without consequence as they did, so now we are bearing the cost,” Shabangu said.

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