In South Africa, mining happens to be one of the predominant industries, significantly contributing to job creation and overall economic development of the country. Consequently, South Africa has witnessed an increase in the number of mining projects and activities on both large and small scale in the recent years. Now, while mining leads to employment creation, community projects and revenue generation, it inevitably impacts negatively on the environment, thereby, disturbing the balance in the environment.
Sustainable and Environment Friendly Mining
The good news is that mining can certainly be made more environment friendly, diminishing its adverse effects to a significant extent. Some of the sustainable mining practices include reducing inputs that lead to water and energy consumption, minimizing waste production and land disturbance, preventing pollution at mine sites and ensuring successful reclamation activities and mine closure.
- Closed water systems through which, effluent water is drained, collected and reused or recycled brings about fresh water and reduces resultant pollution and the consumption of excess water.
- Energy consumption can be reduced by relying more on renewable and clean energy sources such as solar and wind.
- Mining activities make extensive use of land at every stage: exploring, constructing, operating, closing and post-closure. This calls for clearing vegetation, potentially leading to deforestation and loss of habitat. The land-use impacts of mining can be reduced by reducing the overall footprint of the mining area, the amount of waste produced and stored and maintaining bio-diversity by transplanting endangered plants found on the site, wherever and whenever possible.
- Eliminating wastes in the production of mineral and metal commodities can be done by using cleaner production techniques. Water management strategies are used to lower the volume of waste water produced and at times, improve its quality before it is released.
Atha Africa Ventures intends to make mining as sustainable and environment-friendly as possible through the best practices. The Yzermyn underground coal mining project, for instance, focuses entirely on sustainable environmental management. The company has already committed R83.5 million towards environment protection and sets waste management and rehabilitation of existing alien-invaded wetlands as its primary focus areas.