The mines in the Northern Cape are not complying with water usage licensing (WUL) requirements, including several big names in the industry, like De Beers’, Finsch and Namaqualand mines, as well as Transhex.
New statistics released in Parliament show 118 mines around South Africa are polluting local rivers, inadequately testing for contamination or otherwise dirtying South Africa’s waterways.
Violators are spread across every province and include major corporations such as AngloGold Ashanti, De Beers, Glencore and Anglo American Platinum.
The figures, released by the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Gugile Nkwinti, also show that 115 mines are known to be operating without proper water permits.
In the Northern Cape, there were five mines in 2017/18 that did not comply with WUL conditions. They were Black Mountain Mine, De Beers Consolidated Mines, Finsch Mine, Wide Investment 100 Mashwening, Transhex and De Beers: Namaqualand Mine.
In 2016/17 there were 11 in this Province, namely: PMG, Hotazel Manganese: Hotazel site, Hotazel Manganese: Wessels Mine, Hotazel Manganese: Middleplaats, Hotazel Manganese: Mamatwane Mine, Schmidtsdrift Mine, Assmang: Black Rick (Lometag), Rooipoort Mine, Sishen Iron Ore, Scarlet Sun Mine and Crown Resources.
In the previous year, there were only two in the Northern Cape that did not comply with the water usage licence.
According to the statistics provided, more than 15% of the 712 mines licensed to use or to have an effect on water sources had failed to comply with the water-use licenses that stipulate the conditions of that usage.
Asked what steps would be taken to address the deficiencies, Nkwinti responded: “It is not clear why transgressors resort to operation of mines without the requisite authorisation; however, the department continues to intensify activities to protect the water resources, as mandated by the National Water Act”.
Steps to be taken to address the situation include, according to the minister, administrative enforcement action.
“The department investigates identified as well as reported non-compliances regularly. These non-compliances are dealt with in accordance with administrative, criminal and civil enforcement tools as prescribed by the National Water Act, (Act No. 36 of 1998).
“The department also collaborates with other law enforcement agencies such as the South African Police Service and the National Prosecuting Authority in respect of non-compliance matters which require further criminal enforcement action”.