Tunatazama - Community Monitors

Snow on the Mpumalanga coal fields

Vosman is a semi informal settlement in Emalahleni, Nkangala district, Mpumalanga, South Africa. This area is surrounded by mines and there is a stream and wetlands that intersect the area.This area is facing a serous problem with acid mine drainage (AMD)  that pollutes the stream and the wetlands. The source of the AMD is a 750 ha abandoned mine from Transvaal Delagoa Bay colliery that was not rehabilitated properly.

The area next to the stream is surrounded by a white crust effluent that is carried by the water and polluting stream. The AMD comes in a form of liquid/water from the ground to the evaporation ponds next to the stream. The impacts of AMD are a serious concern because they are not only polluting the stream and the wetlands but have a big role that it plays to the environment as a whole.

The nearby community members are at risk because children swim in the acidic water without parental supervision or knowledge. Livestock drink the acidic water from the ponds and the biodiversity is also affected. During rainy seasons the water flows heavily and the ground is always wet and the crust of acid builds up and destroys the plants nearby. During dry seasons the acid crust dries up and forms a white powder on the ground.

According to a source (Earthcache) the colliery began operating in 1896 and closed in 1953 whereby fires during the operation began and were controlled. However after closure some areas of the mine collapsed and subsided which resulted in this problem we are  facing of acid mine drainage, air pollution and the sinkholes. The rehabilitation of the mine is beyond the state because the owners of the colliery are untraceable.

This is a big problem that will take more years to be solved and the stream as well as the wetlands, the community and the other affected areas will remain polluted because of the AMD.

This investigation  will continue.

By Susan Moraba