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Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) is one of the major environmental challenges to be dealt with in the mining sector, especially mining in the East, Central and West Rand underground mining basins. To deal with this problem at a very high level, an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) comprising of the Ministers of Mineral Resources, Water and Environmental Affairs, Science and Technology and the Minister in the Presidency: National Planning Commission was established. Subsequently, a Team of Experts was instructed by a Task Team, chaired by the Directors-General of Mineral Resources and Water Affairs to advise the IMC, in respect of AMD.

On 9 February 2011, Cabinet accepted the recommendations of the Team of Experts, and instructed that, in the medium- to long-term, consideration should be given to steps which will reduce the mine water contribution to the salinity of major river systems and that the necessary feasibility studies will need to be initiated as soon as possible.

A Feasibility Study was subsequently initiated by the Department of Water and Sanitation as a matter of priority. The main goal of the Feasibility study was to-

  • Investigate and recommend a feasible long-term solution to the AMD problems emerging in the study area, in order to ensure long-term water supply security and continuous fitness for use of Vaal River water.

A feasible solution would be one that was technically sound, environmentally sustainable, economically viable, institutionally feasible and legally acceptable. As such, the study’s focus was not only on the technical aspects of a long-term solution (in terms of treatment options), but also on the ecological, social, economic, financial, legal, and institutional aspects, associated with such a solution.

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