Apparently a lack of oversight from the relevant government bodies is allowing Mpumalanga coal mines to waste water and pollute.
A new report from the Center for Environmental Rights (CER) claims a broken regulatory system in the province is allowing Mpumalanga coal mines to pollute with impunity.
The report is part of the CER’s full disclosure series, which looks at the performance and behaviour of listed South African companies and how they impact the environment.
Titled “Full disclosure: The Truth about Mpumalanga Coal Mines Failure to Comply with their Water Use Licences”, the report assessed coal mining operations at eight companies in the province, namely:
What is even scarier is that they were unable to obtain data on water use licences or audit reports from another five coal mining operations, so the situation may even be worse.
The report showed that despite issuing water use licences, the Department for Water & Sanitation in Mpumalanga failed to monitor the usage of the above-mentioned mines at all or enforce action for violations of the licence.
This is especially worrying in this case because coal mining is particularly harmful to water resources due to acid mine drainage polluting surface and groundwater.
“These audits are supposed to be a safety net for regulators, picking up violations and risks that may have been missed in regular compliance monitoring by inspectors,” Leanne Govindsamy, head of CER’s Corporate Accountability Programme, said.
“Instead, they have become the only compliance monitoring that takes place, creating a massive loophole for violations never to be reported or acted upon.”
“The assessment found licence holders to have taken advantage of the delays by the DWS in processing applications for water use licences or licence amendments, instead of at least abiding by best practices for responsible water use,” the report read.
According to the report, six of the eight mining companies assessed use at least 8 million cubic metres of water per year. That is equivalent to the amount needed to full just short of 3200 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
You can see the full report here.