Surface mines should take the lead and help find solutions to the mounting waste crisis’ that threatens to engulf municipalities throughout the country. This is according to Anthony Bowen, a well-known environmental consultant and lead environmental auditor for surface mining industry association, ASPASA. He expands that the association’s mines and quarries are well versed in environmental matters and can lend expertise to managing waste in their respective areas.
Although smaller scale mines and quarries are generally not big polluters, they do generate some waste that is harmful to the environment including lubricants and fuels for equipment, as well as general industrial and domestic types off waste. Legislation requires these to be appropriately handled and sent to waste disposal or recycling plants.
However, what comes after the disposal is of most concern to the association, as many of the municipal and other sites used are inappropriate, full or poorly managed. In some areas waste disposal infrastructure is almost non-existent and poses a conundrum for those who are environmentally conscious.
“Whether its plastic bags strewn from the disposal site by the wind or unsealed hazardous waste landfill sites that contaminate ground water, the combined effect is a catastrophe waiting to happen unless we act now.
“Our mines can offer a number of solutions in terms of expertise, organisational abilities, loan equipment and may even have suitable facilities to recycle building rubble. In rare instances quarries’ rehabilitation plans may even be designed to use as landfill sites after mining activities have been completed.
“These are just some examples that indicate a number of ways that our surface mining industry can help to clean up our towns, cities and environments. But, perhaps the most important role they can play is to rally business and the community to hold municipalities accountable and to work with authorities to find solutions to waste,” says Anthony.
He concludes that ASPASA members in each district of the country are faced with different challenges and should investigate what happens to their waste after it has been collected or disposed of. If there are breaches of legislation, then they should hold the relevant authorities accountable.