AfriForum today directed a letter to Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Water and Sanitation, after the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) informed the civil rights organisation that 38 mines had been operating without water licences until recently.
This follows after AfriForum brought an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (Act No. 2 of 2000) (PAIA) to force the DWS to make information available regarding the number of mines mining without water licences.
According to the National Water Act, 1998 (Act No. 36 of 1998), the national government is the chief custodian of and authority responsible for water resource management in South Africa. This includes the reasonable allocation and beneficial utilisation of water in public interest. Therefore, a person or entity can only be entitled to utilising water if this utilisation is permissible in terms of this Act.
“It is unacceptable that the DWS is allowing mines to mine without valid water licences for years on end. When mines disregard water acts, it has a negative influence on water resources and that is something which South Africa as water-scarce country cannot afford,” says Chris Boshoff, AfriForum’s Coordinator for Environmental Affairs.
The civil rights organisation requested that, amongst other things, the following are made available:
- The steps taken by the DWS to prevent unauthorised mining activities;
- The steps put in place by the Minister to ensure that illegal mining activities urgently enjoy attention by forcing mines to immediately apply for water licences; and
- The monitoring processes which the DWS will put in place for a specific mine after the mine has been issued with a water licence.
“The problem is that, even though appropriate water legislation and regulations exist, they are not always properly monitored and enforced in the case of mining activities,” concludes Boshoff.
SMS your name to 45354 (R1) to support AfriForum’s action.