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R1.4 bn to rehabilitate abandoned mines

15 September 2010 at 8:34 pm

Business Day, 15 September 2010
The Department of Minerals and Energy is going to spend R1. 456 billion to rehabilitate as many of the 6000 owner-less and Derelict Mines as possible, depending on the availability of financial resources for the 10-year period.

Head of communication of the Department of Minerals and Energy, Jeremy Michaels, warned that the department does not have money at the moment. “We do not have money yet, it is a serious challenge. We are going to approach the national treasury to ask for money. It is quite clear that the government cannot do it alone. We will also approach the mining industry to get involved to rehabilitate the abandoned mines,” Michaels said.

Michaels said that the department will punish those owners who had abandoned their mines. He said: “Those abandoned mines whose owners can be traced will be held responsible in terms of the law. Mining companies are required by law to rehabilitate their mines.”

In a statement released by the department, the department has assured Parliament that government will soon agree on solutions to deal with problems posed by Owner-less and Derelict Mines as well as Acid Mine Drainage.

The statement said: The Department’s short- to medium-term plan will focus on those Owner-less and Derelict Mines which pose an immediate threat to communities. These include asbestos sites as well as open mines. A total of 48 asbestos mines in the Northern Cape and Limpopo have already been rehabilitated since 1994, whilst 108 dangerous gold mine trenches and shafts have been rehabilitated over the same period.

“We will be hosting a summit in the next two months or so to bring all relevant role-players together so that, collectively, we find ways to deal with the challenges posed by Owner-less and Derelict Mines,” the statement said.