The regulation of acid mine drainage in South Africa: law and governance perspectives
Acid mine drainage (AMD) is arguably one of the most serious environmental concerns in South Africa. AMD is a legacy left behind by abandoned, derelict and defunct mines, and is a continuing by-product of existing mining activities. In addition to its environmental impacts, AMD will also impact on all the parameters of sustainability, including ecological, social and economic concerns. In particular, AMD is set to affect infrastructure, displace people and affect their livelihoods, influence economic activity, impact on the resource extraction industry, and affect South Africa's policies and actions in relation to climate change and its efforts to move towards a low carbon economy; and it will test the efficiency of regulatory interventions emanating from both the private and the public sector to the extreme. Given these pervasive challenges, in this article we provide a survey of the AMD problem in South Africa through the law and governance lens. We commence by highlighting the various issues and challenges that result from AMD in the environmental context on the one hand, and the law and governance context on the other hand. We then describe the many provisions of the regulatory framework that we believe would be instrumental in responding to the threat. We conclude the article with brief remarks on what we believe are important considerations in the future regulation of AMD.
KEYWORDS: acid mine drainage; environment; mining; environmental law; environmental governance; water pollution; environmental right; sustainable development; Constitution; National Water Act; National Environmental Management Act; National Environmental Management: Waste Act.
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