Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Print version ISSN 0038-223X
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa advocates the importance of sustainable economic development and justifiable environmental consciousness by business. The government needs to ensure that every citizen of the Republic has access to an environment that is protected, pollution free, and sustainable by enacting certain regulations. However, there are more than 5 700 derelict and unrehabilitated mines of all types in South Africa. Former asbestos operations were among the first to be targeted for clean-up under the programme instituted by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), owing to the proven direct impact of asbestos pollution on health. This paper seeks to investigate the challenges faced by the coal sector as far as mine rehabilitation and closure is concerned. For the purpose of this paper rehabilitation is defined as per the Chamber of Mines Rehabilitation Guidelines publication, which defines rehabilitation as putting the land impacted by mining activities back to a sustainable and usable condition. Some of the current rehabilitation challenges are technical skills (know-how), leadership focus, poor planning, cost saving initiatives, and the government's lack of capacity to enforcement rehabilitation requirements. It is imperative that mining companies identify rehabilitation as a critical strategic pillar that directly influences license to operate. The case study evidence indicates that relevant policies, appointment of accountable people, sufficient leadership support, and the correct choice of rehabilitation equipment can assist to improve the rehabilitation and land management challenge.
Keywords : surface coal mining; rehabilitation; land management; sustainability.