Coal mining wastewater spilled near a historic South African game park last month, raising community concerns about the environmental effects.
An estimated 1,500 cubic meters of liquid known as slurry leaked after a dam collapsed on Dec. 24 following heavy rains, according to a statement from the miner, the Zululand Anthracite Colliery. The mining area borders the Mfolozi River and the Hluhluwe Mfolozi game park, the “oldest proclaimed reserve in Africa,” according to its website.
There have been no confirmed reports of human, domestic livestock, fish or wild animal deaths further downstream, according to the Daily Maverick newspaper, which was first to report the incident. Residents are concerned the release has contaminated the groundwater used by isolated communities, it said.
Mine management started a clean up operation after the leak was discovered and the dam wall has been repaired, ZAC said. The mine, which extracts a high quality grade of coal known as anthracite, was developed in the 1980s by BHP Billiton and subsequently owned by Rio Tinto Plc before ZAC was acquired by Menar, which also mines in Turkey and Kyrgyzstan.
(By Paul Burkhardt)