Grootvlei mine pumps shut down

According to liquidator, pumps have been removed from the flooded Aurora owned mine for repair.The eastern mining basin, east of Johannesburg is flooding underground after last pump was switched off seven days, a reliable source told Business Day.

Eastern basin is one of six mine basins in the Witwatersrand gold fields area located east of Johannesburg. A mine basin is an underground mine void that was created over 120 years of gold mining in South Africa. But according to liquidator, Enver Motala, the switch off was planned. “The water pumps were removed and have to be repaired. It’s a normal routine and going to cost R20 to-R30 million to repair them,” he told Business Day. “In one or two months the situation will be returned to normal.” He said that the flooding could be contained for up to six months before it would be a crisis.

A source at the mine has called the flooding “significant” and will lead to the sterilization of the gold reserves. “We haven’t been pumping water at the eastern basin for the last seven days. All the equipment has been stripped underground and brought to the surface. The eastern basin is currently flooding underground and the water is 720m from the surface,” the source said. Grootvlei acting mine manager Herby Trow previously told Mining Weekly that the water level is rising by about 0,4 m a week. “If the water reaches a point where there is only 13m left before reaching the station, we will have to abandon it,” he said.

Mariette Liefferink from the Federation of Sustainable Environment told Business Day that the decant of acidic mine water will take place into the Blesbokspruit, the CBD of Nigel and a number of sub Nigel Shafts. The Blesbokspruit is part of the Vaal Barrage System. In terms of the Water Research Commission report No 1397/1/07: “It is clear that mining operations even after they have been discontinued, are still having a major impact on water quality in the Vaal Barrage Catchment, to the extent that it can no longer be compared with other natural water systems… only 21% of the sites surveyed showed no evidence of cytotoxicty.”

Liefferink also said that the Central Basin is currently flooding at between .47m and 1m per day. It is anticipated that Central Basin will flood and start to decant at the lowest topographical points which are Gold Reef City and the mining operations of Central Rand Gold and Cinderella Lake mid 2012.

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