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Multi-stakeholder Partnerships May Solve Acid Mine Drainage Problems
GLOBAL management consulting firm, AT Kearney, has released a report contending that a multi-stakeholder partnership between companies, government and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) may be the answer to solving South Africa’s acid mine drainage (AMD) problem.
The report stated that this approach would combine the best aspects and capabilities of stakeholders to create a sustainable solution to AMD. It warned that South Africa’s water scarcity problem is being amplified by AMD, increasing pressure on water supply to the agricultural, residential and industrial sectors.
While the problem is treatable, government had yet to find a way to structure and finance a comprehensive solution to the problem. The report said that despite the best efforts of active parties, none has had the combined scale, resources, and credibility to fully resolve the issue.
“Combining the need for low-cost universal access to water with fully funded solutions has complicated the implementation of treatment processes,” the report said. Additionally, implementation and finding a way to finance a solution that balanced the rights and obligations of all the parties involved has proven difficult.
Gauteng is among the most-affected areas as the AMD sources sit atop the continental watershed, the waters of which ultimately drained into the Vaal, Orange and Limpopo rivers. From 2015, the levels of Gauteng’s acid mine water were anticipated to exceed the ability of the Vaal river to absorb it for safe human use. However, the report suggested that as much as AMD posed an extreme threat to South Africa’s water supply, it also provided a potential solution to water problems.
“Treating AMD could help relieve the water shortage anticipated in Gauteng by 2015. It could also create opportunities for industrial water users, such as Eskom, mining companies and agricultural users that are short of water.