Gordhan sets aside R230m for acid mine water

THE government has budgeted R225m over the next two years to design and build an acid mine water treatment facility in the Vaal water management area. In the 2011 budget tabled by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday, the amount allocated for the department of water affairs’ sector management programme was increased by 15.3% per year for the next three years – from R447m in 2010/11 to R685m in 2013/14. “The spending focus over the medium term will be on designing and building the acid mine drainage treatment facilities, building the monitoring stations, developing reconciliation strategies and transferring funds to the water sector institutions,” read the document. “(Another) R5m of the allocation is for developing a five-year national strategy to deal with acid mine drainage in South Africa.” Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa last week alluded to the construction of a pump system in the East Rand near Boksburg at a cost of R218m. Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said on Tuesday cabinet has accepted recommendations made to an inter-ministerial committee by a team of experts on how to deal with the threat of acid mine drainage in the Witwatersrand. According to a senior regional manager at the department of water affairs, Marius Keet, rising acid effluent in the Central Basin of the Witwatersrand would breach an environmentally critical level of 150m below surface in June 2012 if left unattended. By that time the department would have installed the necessary pumps – scheduled to be in operation by March 2012 – to prevent a possible natural disaster, Keet said. The export report is due to be made public on Thursday. “The report indicates issues we should be concerned about; all those issues are explained in detail in the report,” Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel said on Tuesday. “A series of pumping needs to happen, with different activities (applicable) to different parts.” The budget specified no other allocation for the treatment of acid mine drainage.

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