Impact of Mine Waste on the Environment

The Impact of Mine Waste on the Environment and Community Quality of Life: A Case Study Investigation of the impacts and conflicts associated with Coal Mining in the Mpumalanga Province, South Africa

Coal is one of the world’s most used resources and the main energy source in South Africa. However, coal-based power generation industries produce large tonnages of solid waste which pose a significant and irreversible risk to the surrounding environment, and frequently also represent a long-term economic burden and loss of valuable resources. The current emphasis on land disposal and end-of-pipe rehabilitation and reclamation of mine waste by the mining industry has done little to improve its reputation or relieve the continued tensions between mining operations and surrounding communities. The aim of the project is to investigate the relationship between mine waste, environmental degradation and community quality of life to develop a more detailed understanding of the inter-relationship between mine waste, environmental degradation and community impacts, in terms of health and livelihoods. The knowledge and evidence generated is expected to facilitate the development and implementation of integrated and sustainable approaches to the management of mine waste in the South African context.
Bonisile Shongwe
MPhil in Sustainable Mineral Development
”Until purpose is realized, life is meaningless”
Bonisile has development at heart; her work focuses on enterprise development and other livelihood issues with a strong emphasis on empowering rural people and addressing poverty. The Swazi born introvert keeps a small circle of friends, loves family, and enjoys travelling and sport.

The impacts and conflicts associated with waste generated by gold mining in South Africa, with specific emphasis on heavy metal contamination – a case study of Davidsonville (Roodepoort)
Large amounts of gold tailings dams were produced in Witwatersrand area which covers enormous densely populated areas. Often the gold tailings dams contain elevated levels of uranium and other toxic heavy metals that pose a health risk to communities. A lot of newspaper articles and documentaries have emerged where society has associated their health problems to mine waste. Therefore, the aim of the research is to determine the impacts and conflicts associated with gold mine waste, with specific emphasis on heavy metal contamination. The aim will be achieved by, (i) conducting a temporal analysis of incidents of environmental pollution by gold mining with specific emphasis to heavy metals, sources and origins and impacts that this has had on surrounding communities and other activities in the area and the actions taken/repercussions; (ii) establishing current perceptions and understandings amongst the Davidsonville community, the implications that this may/does have on their quality of life and resilience, as well as their legal rights; (iii) analysing the extent of which current community concerns are/have been addressed by the mining industry and/or government, and are supported by scientific evidence and information; and (iv) identifying any gaps and shortcomings with regards to (ii) and make recommendations accordingly.
Phumzile Nwaila
MPhil in Sustainable Mineral Development
Versatile, GIS analyst and Environmental Scientist with multi-disciplinary experience in GIS, Office Administration, Environmental due diligence and Project Management. I hold a BSc in Geology and Geography (UJ); BSc honours degree in Geography (UJ); and currently busy with an MPhil degree in Sustainable Mineral Resource Development (UCT).

Assessment of pollution in the Munkukungwe stream after the closure of the Bwana Mkubwa Mine
Water pollution induced by mining activities is the major environmental challenges on the Zambian Copperbelt. The study was conducted to investigate the pollution situation in Munkulungwe stream located on the Copperbelt. Water samples from four sampling points on Munkulungwe stream near Bwana Mkubwa Mine were analyzed to assess the pollution load. The study assessed the variation of Physical parameters, Heavy Metals and Macro Invertebrates of the stream. Physical parameters and concentration of heavy metals in water samples were determined. pH and Total Dissolved Solids were found to be within the acceptable limits of the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) at all sampling points. All sampling points recorded high turbidity values above the acceptable limits, while Dissolved Oxygen was below the acceptable limit. Cu was within the acceptable limits while Co, Pb, Fe and Mn were above the acceptable limits. Macro Invertebrates sensitive to pollution were not found in the stream and the average stream rating from the biotic index score was fair. The Results determined, show that the water quality of Munkulungwe stream is polluted. It is recommended that close monitoring of the stream be done.
Lee Mudenda
MPhil in Sustainable Mineral Development
Lee Mudenda is a post graduate student at the University of Cape Town. He enjoys spending time out with his wife Precious, watching football and educating the community on the benefit of environmental stewardship. Grateful for an amazing group of friends that have had a positive impact in his life.

Minerals to Metals Symposium 2016


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

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