Boosting the green strategy

Government sees pollution, global warming effects

The issues around waste management move forward as industry and the government take account of the effects of pollution on global warming.
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The issues around waste management move forward as industry and the government take account of the effects of pollution on global warming.

As the world moves into an era where global warming is becoming a significant factor in the way we live our lives, industry is encouraged to follow internationally established best practice principles which are governed by the Kyoto Protocol.

But what impact does this have on the South African industry?

It has a significant impact as the economy is still largely dependent on the mining sector as a cornerstone of industry and a significant contributor to the country’s gross domestic product.

Pollution prevention in terms of waste management, therefore, is becoming a key factor of consideration when establishing a mine plan.

Before the documentation is submitted to the government, an application to mine without a thorough environmental impact assessment report will not get very far in terms of being passed.

The main environmental resource affected by mining, oil and gas is water.

And seeing as though the country is a water scarce country this becomes a significant area of concern.

A recent report released by research company The Network shows the extent of the problem as well as efforts to combat it.

The report shows that the mining industry, relative to how critical water is to its operations, uses a mere 2.5% of the total amount of water in the country.

As opposed to household use, however, recycling water in the mining industry is close to nonexistent.

Dwindling water supplies have in the recent past, focused the global attention from a supply management problem to a demand management one.

Water Resource Management Strategy, in an effort to introduce measures to protect water resources, has set objectives for the desired condition of resources and the mining industry impacts heavily on acceptable waste water limits.

Resource Directed Measures focus on the quality of the water itself and reflects the health of the water resource.

Source Directed Controls on the other hand define the limit and constraints imposed on the use of water resources to achieve the desired level of protection.

Pollution problems caused by mining activities include acid mine drainage, metal contamination of ground water and increased sedimentation in lakes and rivers.

The environmental impacts of mining are many and wide reaching.

Erosion, the formation of sinkholes and the contamination of groundwater and surface water by runoff acid water are just some of the effects of the industry.

Beyond the environmental degradation, the contaminants from runoff water can cause destruction of fragile ecosystems, destroy grazing and croplands and affect the health of the local populace.

Changes in law, advances in technology and an overall tightening of environmental policies have taken the first, albeit shaky, steps to addressing the most immediate threats posed by acid water drainage.

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Issue 42