GOVERNMENT has said an environmental rehabilitation levy is on the cards targeting the mining sector, which is blamed for severely damaging the environment.
In an interview last week, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said he had come face-to-face with excessive environmental damage caused by mining activities.
“I was in Matobo (where there is gold mining) and what I saw troubled me big time,” he said.
“The rate at which we are destroying our environment is unprecedented. I can’t even describe what I saw.
“I would be moving to the Midlands. I’m told where there is chrome mining, it’s almost the same again. It’s something that we have identified as top priority. As a Ministry, we are working on certain proposals which will lead to the creation of a sustainable environmental rehabilitation fund.”
Minister Ndlovu said even mining companies had used legal loopholes to extract minerals without rehabilitating the environment they operated from and damage.
He said this caused serious ecological damage needing urgent attention.
Minister Ndlovu said the proposed fund will see mining companies rehabilitating the environment, while continuing with their activities.
“At law, mining companies are mandated to rehabilitate the environment where they are mining after they close or finish mining,” he said.
“It’s a loophole that has been exploited, where a company official says I’m still mining, I haven’t completed. I can mine for 50 years and the law will not be compelling rehabilitation of the environment. That, again, will have to be addressed.
“It has to be an ongoing process. We will also be considering having an environmental insurance. Where the rehabilitation cost is too high, we can then make use of the insurance. However, that would be an option available for the miner.”