Mining companies must work with government – Portfolio committee_1

Mining companies in the West Rand District Municipality should be working with government and doing more and to improve the lives of people living around their mines and reduce pollution. 

This according to the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, who added that these companies are responsible for developing the areas infrastruture. 

“The Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation is concerned that mining companies operating in the West Rand District Municipality are not investing enough in the socio-economic development of the communities in which they operate,” they said in a statement. 

Mining companies must work with government

They said that government was powerless to effect change without the help of major mining companies, and said that a “public-private partnership” is necessary. 

“Mining companies have a legislative and moral duty to develop the areas of their operation and to assist government to improve the lives of the people,” said Machwene Semenya, the Chairperson of the committee.

One might wonder where this enthusiasm for partnership with the private sector disappears to in so many other instances. 

Dire conditions for mining towns 

The towns around the mines in question are affected by the ongoing pollution of the Vaal River, which the portfolio committee believes is an issue the mining companies must deal with alongside local municipalities. 

“If we have a well-functioning wastewater treatment works system, we would be halfway to dealing with polluted rivers in the country. No effort must be spared to ensure that we deal with the problem at the source,” Ms Semenya said, adding that the Merafong Local Municipality had agreed that they are “part of the problem”. 

Last week, a delegation of coal miners made their way to Cape Town to disrupt the Southern African Coal Conference alongside the Extinction Rebellion protest group. 

Members of the protest bemoaned the impact mining has on their community, suggesting that the industry is polluting the water supply beyond salvation. 

“For far too long, we have accepted that coal is part of our economy, but climate change has already cost South Africa 10% of our GDP,” said . Fossil Free SA spokesperson David Le Page.

Along with the Merafong municipality, the committee will also visit Hammanskraal in Tshwane to assess the impact of the city’s and the Department of Water and Sanitation’s interventions to improve the quality of water in that area.