Gauteng launches five-year AMD treatment plan, R36m needed in first year

Dear SAICE Member,


Chris Herold (SAICE VP) Mike Muller (National Planning Commission WITS) invite you to participate in this blog on:

The Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) launch of a five-year framework plan aimed at halting the decant of acidic ground and surface water emanating from disused mines in the Witwatersrand (Wits) Basin.


SAICE members wishing to submit comments in connection this article are requested to do so via the SAICE Blog on:


We have attached a copy of the article published by Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online on 30 April 2014 for you to view. Click here



Steven Kaplan

Chief Operating Officer

South African Institution of Civil Engineering

Cell:    +27 (0) 83 441 4982

Tel:     +27 (0) 11 805 5947

Fax:    +27 (0) 11 805 5971



4 Responses to “Gauteng launches five-year AMD treatment plan, R36m needed in first year”

  1. Chris Herold

    Dear Colleagues

    When I first read the headline I thought, ‘you must be joking – it will cost much more than that to solve the problem’.

    On reading the article, it sounds more like a ‘talk shop’ costing R36 million in the first year! I hope it has more substance than that. But I am not reassured by the choice of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development run the process. Do they really have the necessary expertise to bring to the table? From what I have seen, while DWA have been calling for WDM, national agriculture has issued free hosepipes to folk to irrigate with precious costly potable water! Even now, they are pushing for grandiose (and impossible) schemes to increase agricultural water use. They are also jumping in boots and all to develop uneconomic and wasteful biofuels industries. There is also a vast chasm between the skills required to manage agriculture and rural development, and those needed to control AMD. Therefore I do not see agriculture as the receptacle of the wisdom required to solve this problem.

    The tried and trusted process is proper planning (and in this case, research), followed by informed decision making and then implementation. Unfortunately decades of procrastination have eaten away the time required for planning and resulted in panic at the end. The rush to build something has led to reversal of the logical order. First the rush to build something. Now the idea seems to be to belatedly hasten the decision making. The planning process that should have preceded and informed everything may have been squeezed out somewhere along the line?

    I would appreciate better information, if you have it.

  2. Mike Muller

    Chris and colleagues
    Apparently (reading the article), an important component of this programme is to reduce the INFLOWS from which the outflows of polluted water are derived. This is important and should be supported.

    As you know, across Gauteng there are many sinkholes, old shafts, mine dump reclamation sites and more or less artificial wetlands, to say nothing of leaking water pipes and sewers, all of which contribute to the flow through the system.

    If we reduce this flow, we reduce the amount of salts leached out of the mine workings as well as reducing the pumping requirement.
    So it is an important component of an overall long-term strategy.

    We should also use the example to educate the broader public about groundwater and the need to protect it since there is a widespread belief that it simply “arises” and is not related to what is happening at the surface.

  3. Chris Herold

    Thanks Mike, that’s an important intervention.

  4. Hugh William S. Hodge

    JRA and most municipal SWMMs embrace a policy of stormwater retention, one of the reasons being specifically to recharge ground water. This was/is a sound policy as it reduced the magnitude of storm runoff downstream. Hopefully this policy has not now changed through the novel science of AMD? If so, the cost of managing stormwater runoff and limiting flood damage will increase. Have these increased stormwater management and potential flood damage costs been taken into account and who is coordinating with the roads agencies? Who will be accountable for the expenditure on this novel AMD science?

    Mike has made a good point about managing the inflows, but hopefully these sensible interventions are confined to a local cut-off drain u/s of an open mineshafts, which should not be too costly. I agree with Chris there are also many, many questions and it sounds like an expensive talk shop (using scare tactics?) for something that only might materialize later and then only in a temporary manner. Presumably it could be fixed releteively depending on the scale of the problem when, where and how it manifests and after Mike’s basic intervention at the open mineshaft has been completed. The old scout moto adage is “Be Prepared”, just in case the worst happens. If it doen’t then we have saved the public and the industry some cash.


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