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This SpringerBrief focuses on Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) in the three basins in the Witwatersrand, South Africa. It provides a background to AMD and its impactsfrom a social science perspective.The South African government and non-governmental organizations’ response to AMD is assessed, as well the socio-economic and developmental effects of AMD. This volume, which is based on the author’s Master’s dissertation at UNISA, involves interviews with a range of experts in the field from government departments, environmental organisations (activists), the private sector (mining), tourism sector and the agricultural sector. The book discusses existing policy documents on AMD and provides recommendations in response to the many socio-economic impacts which have not been fully addressed. A literature review on the global context of AMD is provided.

South Africa’s water systems are already severely harmed by climate change, different forms of pollution, and poorly managed sanitation systems. For these reasons, the country is becoming increasingly water-stressed and therefore, water will continue to become much scarcer in the future. As a result of AMD’s continued impact on South Africa’s water systems, as a technical or scientific matter as well as the policy implications for the mining sector, water security and socio-economic sustainability has become a highly contested issue.



Chapter 1. Overview of AMD in South Africa

In South Africa, acid mine drainage (AMD) has become a highly contested issue as a technical or scientific matter, as well as its policy implications for the mining sector, water security and socio-economic sustainability. What is more contested is that differences in the definition exists between two groups of role-players, namely the South African government and consultants/activists/NGOs. These differences are discussed along with situation of AMD in the each of the three basins of the Witwatersrand goldfields, in the Vaal River System. A key finding was that the way AMD is understood determines what solutions are proposed by the role-players. The policy response to AMD is explained in this book and whether there are appropriate measures in place given the socio-economic impacts of AMD and the imperatives of sustainable development.

Suvania Naidoo

Chapter 2. The Global Context of AMD

In many regions of the world, there is now a failure to invest adequately in water services. These services include the treating and reusing of water efficiently, ‘mainly because policy-makers and economic planners do not fully appreciate the importance of water’. This is now increasing the issue of water shortages in many parts of the world. This will contribute to a situation within 20 years, when the global demand for water will be far greater than the supply (Creamer 2015, p. 3). The World Water Council (in Creamer 2015, p. 4) states that the world’s population tripled in the twentieth century, while the use of renewable resources has increased six times; in the next 50 years, the world’s population is expected to increase by another 40–50 %, and therefore water resources will be under severe pressure. These concerns will continue to increase due to the growing population and the impacts on water systems. Therefore, water stress is not only unique to South Africa, but it is a global problem, with many countries experiencing the same impacts.

Suvania Naidoo

Chapter 3. Water Mining and Development in South Africa

The objective of this chapter is to conduct a brief evaluation of some of the published literature available on the topic of this book. Therefore, this chapter presents a limited review of the existing information that is available on AMD. The intention is to inform readers of the existing research and the reporting that has been done so that they can understand the broader context in which this topic is located and the current state of knowledge on the topic. The implication is that the discussion also identifies areas in which further research is required.

Suvania Naidoo

Chapter 4. The Nature of Acid Mine Drainage in the Vaal River System

The purpose of this book is to consider the possible socio-economic implications of AMD in the Vaal River system. It is therefore necessary first to develop an overall understanding of the state of AMD in this area. Research has been done in this respect until early 2016 to determine the latest state or nature of the phenomenon.

Suvania Naidoo

Chapter 5. The Policy Response to Acid Mine Drainage in the Gold-Mining Sector

In Chap. 4, the nature of the Vaal River system and the significance of AMD in South Africa were discussed. The situation in each of the basins in the Witwatersrand was explained. AMD is caused by abandoned mines or those that became liquidated and were no longer active and had to shut down their operations. Thus, the problem is not new but one that has been developing and becoming more severe throughout the years, especially since 2002, when there have been cases of harm to the environment. What is transparently evident thus far is that AMD is a concern and the parties concerned, irrespective of who remains responsible at this stage, have to ensure that consistent and adequate clean-up takes place so that the earth’s resources can be preserved and the principles of sustainable development are abided by.

Suvania Naidoo

Chapter 6. Socio-economic Impact of Acid Mine Drainage

In the previous chapters, the nature and scope of AMD were discussed. The different responses to AMD were also identified. In view of the fact that the objective of this book is to investigate whether the government’s policy response is appropriate for the dynamics of AMD, it is important to determine what its socio-economic impacts are or could be. The impacts of AMD can then be linked to the policy response. This chapter, therefore, discusses the socio-economic impacts of AMD. It incorporates the environmental, social, economic and health impacts that contaminated mine water has or could have on communities who live in areas surrounding a mine.

Suvania Naidoo

Chapter 7. AMD and a Sustainable Future for South Africa

The aim of this book was to investigate and determine from a sustainable development perspective whether the South African government’s evolving policy response is sufficiently synchronised or sensitive to the social dynamics of AMD in the Vaal River system. Three objectives were derived. The first was directed towards the government’s policy response to AMD and how it evolved. The second objective was to determine the socio-economic implications of AMD in the Vaal River system, who are affected by it and how are they affected. Lastly, the third objective was to determine whether the emerging policy would be able to address the impact of AMD on society.

Suvania Naidoo
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