A mineral deposit is only a potential source of wealth and the significance of the deposits become evident only when a mineral is mined, resulting in the disturbance of the natural environment (wellis et al).Mining in South Africa is renowned to be the main constituent of economic development and the legacy it leaves behind also seems to be the main element that leads to severe environmental issues within our country. In this environmentally conscious decade, what are mining companies doing to reverse their impacts on the environment post-mining?
This essay will explore the mine closure process to properly look at life or the state of the environment after a mine is abandoned. This essay ...view middle of the document...
Mining is an impermanent activity, with the operational life span of a mine lasting from a few years to several decades (Fraser institute, 2012). Mine closure is the process of closing down mining processes on a temporary or permanent basis. Mines have a restricted durability which is determined by the extent and quality of the mineral deposits being unearthed. Mines are closed when the quantity of the resource runs out or the commodity prices fall, making the mine improvident to operate (natural resources, 2011). It normally takes two to ten years to shut down a mine, but it can take longer if long term water monitoring or treatment is essential (natural resources, 2011).
The Government of South Africa is constituted as having national, provincial and local spheres that are distinct but interdependent and interrelated. The Constitution allocates legislative and administrative functions to all three spheres of government, giving a wide range of government agencies responsibility for environmental management.
Environmental provisions are included in the Bill of Rights in Chapter 2 of the Constitution of South Africa Act, No. 108 of 1996. In terms of section 24 of the Act, everyone has the right:
a) to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and
b) to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that:
• prevent pollution and ecological degradation;
• promote conservation; and
• Secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.
The mining termination process that occurs after closure and decommissioning are remediation and recovery. The objective of recuperation is to return the land and waterways to an adequate standard of productive use, guaranteeing that most landforms and structures are intact, and that water canals are of satisfactory water quality. Reclamation typically comprises a number of activities such as eradicating hazardous materials, restructuring the land, reestablishing topsoil, and embedding native grasses, trees, or ground cover. Monitoring programs are used to evaluate the efficiency of the reclamation procedures and to recognize any corrective action that may be needed.
In addition, mines may have need for long-term care and maintenance after mine closure such as fragmentary treatment of mine discharge water, episodic monitoring and maintenance of tailings containment structures, and monitoring any continuing remediation technologies used such as built wetlands. One of the most important principles of rehabilitation is overall water control to prevent erosion and to promote re-vegetation. That is by making sure that rain falling onto the dump remains where it landed(Top water control),using paddocks to trap eroded material and polluted water until the sides are well vegetated(slide water control) and controlling...