CASE STUDY
 

Why is AMD of such public interest in South Africa?

AMD relates to the acidification and contamination of naturally occurring water resources by pyrite-bearing ore contained in both underground mines and rock dumps and tailings dams on the surface.

The long history of gold mining in the Witwatersrand Water Basin in South Africa – and the potential impact of its AMD legacy on Johannesburg and its highly populated surrounding areas – means the issue continues to attract elevated levels of public attention. Given the long life of mine of the South Deep mine, Gold Fields is likely to be the ‘last man standing’ in the West Wits gold mining industry – making it imperative that it takes a proactive stance on the issue.

Mines are obliged to pump and treat underground water in perpetuity and this is part of Gold Fields long-term environmental commitment. AMD will only be an issue when mines stop pumping underground water.

Long-term potential risks have been identified with respect to the Beatrix, KDC and South Deep mines. Gold Fields has commissioned several technical studies to identify the steps needed to prevent AMD at its operations – but these do not as yet provide a reliable estimate of the potential impact of AMD.

Gold Fields and Sibanye Gold will continue to take a leadership role in efforts to address the long-term impact of AMD through a number of initiatives including the Liquid Gold project and Surface Treatment Strategy.