The South African government has adopted the “Polluter pays principle” to tackle the environmental problem of acid mine drainage. Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, said during the announcement of a long-term solution for acid mine drainage scourge in Johannesburg.
The solution involves building a multi-million rand acid mine water treatment plant in Gauteng. Under the conditions of the terms of the solution, the mining sector would pay 67% of a multi-billion-rand acid mine water, which is expected to cost between R10bn and R12bn, according to Mokonyane.
Mokonyane explained that the other cost of the treatment plant (33%) would be carried by water users.
Although the mining sector has caused acid mine drainage, it will not pay for the total cost to prevent “unnecessary overburdening” of the sector. Other water users will pay for the rest because the country benefited from mining.
She added: “With the support of National Treasury, we have decided to cap the contributions of water users to the cost of dealing with the problem to only 33% of the project.”
The acid mine water treatment project is already in progress. The first phase, implemented in April 2011 was what was termed an “emergency works” project – an interim remedy until a permanent and sustainable solution was developed.