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The 400 abandoned coal mines of South Africa pose a deadly risk

South Africa has failed to clean up and secure hundreds of abandoned coal mines that now pose a deadly threat to nearby communities, according to Human Rights Watch.

There are more than 400 empty coal mines in the nation that export fossil fuels and use them to generate about 80% of their electricity. The sites threaten to pollute rivers and land by leaching acid water while posing a security risk because access is not secure, the group wrote in a report published Tuesday.

“The South African government has done almost nothing to address the toxic heritage,” Human Rights Watch said. Instead of rehabilitation by mining companies, misjudgments of future cleaning costs by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy and poor enforcement have left residents facing the consequences, it said.

The broader industry in South Africa has left a total of more than 6,000 abandoned mines in its tracks. Earlier this year, Thungela Resources – a coal spinoff from Anglo American – reported a toxic spill at a mine operation more than 50 years ago that it attributed to vandalism. The company was commissioned to repair the environmental damage.

There was no legal requirement to clean up mines in South Africa prior to legislation in 2002, but even since then, the rules have rarely been enforced, according to Human Rights Watch. The cost of rehabilitating coal mines in South Africa could be many hundreds of times more than the amount set aside by producers, it said.

“The government must ensure that mines are rehabilitated to the level required by law and that the cost of cleaning is borne by the mining company,” said the group, which conducted interviews with dozens of community members, health workers and amtners.


To read: How much South Africa needs to get rid of coal

The 400 abandoned coal mines of South Africa pose a deadly risk

Source link The 400 abandoned coal mines of South Africa pose a deadly risk

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