Opening the debate on her department’s budget in the National Council of Provinces, Shabangu said the main focus of the bill is effectively to manage infrastructure development in dolomitic terrains as well as to empower the Council for Geoscience to be an advisory authority in respect of geohazards and to enable it to become the custodian of all geotechnical data and technical information relating to exploration and mining.
The bill is to be part of a major clean up of the detritus of more than a century of mining which her department is undertaking.
She explained to MPs that before 1991 mining houses were not legally required to rehabilitate the environment after mining had taken place.
“This has resulted ion a legacy of unrehabilitated derelict and ownerless mines,” she said, “which pose significant health and safety risks to nearby communities as well as the cumulative environmental impacts on the surrounding environment.”
“Examples of this include Khutsong township in Merafong and Katlehong on the East Rand, where both houses and a hospital are at risk of collapsing due to these sinkholes,” she said.
The minister said that her department has prioritised the rehabilitation of derelict and ownerless mines in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, the North West and the Northern Cape.
The priorities, she said, have been guided by the proximity of these mines to communities as well as the health and safety risks and impact on the environment.
Shabangu told the house that she is encouraged by the fact that the industry is prepared to rise to the challenge of ‘greenification of the mining sector’.
She added that the green economy issues “require us to ensure that mining does not leave behind a mix of negative social, environmental and human legacies – and we are determined to ensure that mining does not leave a negative legacy on the landscape of our country.”