SAWEF Paradigm Shifter Series – Paper 1 Acid Mine Drainage

Debunking Persistent Myths about AMD in the Quest for a Sustainable Solution



The AMD debate has raged on for a decade now, often manifesting as a series of messy public spats in which attempts have been made to apportion blame and seek redress by well-meaning activists. Central to this debate have been images of chaos, often perpetuated by the media, which include the notion of buildings that are likely to collapse[1] and the city of Johannesburg being in grave peril[2]. Significantly, despite a concerted effort by environmental and social justice activists, all attempts at the apportionment of liability have largely been rejected by the regulator through a protracted legal process. While the status quo has prevailed to the frustration of government, the mining industry and the enlightened public, this decade of contestation has also prevented viable technical solutions from being developed and implemented. It can safely be assumed that a general loss of confidence has resulted – in the government as an arbiter, in the industry as a responsible corporate citizen, in Gauteng as a region of future developmental potential, and in the economy as a safe place to invest foreign capital and create jobs – making us all collectively less well off. This is a classic lose-lose outcome, so how can we turn this into a win-win solution instead?

[1] Tempelhoff, E. 2007(a).

[2] Segar, S. 2013(a).