The government has published new legislation relating to environmental management, with the most significant being the National Environmental Management: Waste Management Bill. This Bill published for comment on 12 January 2007 makes provision for penalties up to R10 million or 10 years’ imprisonment. It is expected that this bill will be enacted by the end of the 2007 calendar year.
In this Bill the definition of ‘waste’ no longer excludes wastewater and mining waste. The definition of ‘industry’ also expressly includes mining activities. The proposed act will therefore apply to slimes, tailings, waste rock and other mineral waste generated during the course of mining activities. This could have serious cost implications to mining operations in future as surface and ground water pollution from these sources will have to be eliminated or controlled in line with the minimum requirements which were published by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry a few years ago. Currently ‘mining waste’ is excluded from the definition of ‘waste’ and is controlled under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.
New regulations under the Environmental Management Act were gazetted in January 2007. The regulations will control the following:
The most significant changes that were introduced through these new regulations are: