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MEI Online: Environmental Issues: Latest News: March 21st 2014


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:: South Africa Seeks to Staunch Fool’s Gold Acid Leaching Into Water


South Africa expects to complete a project to try to stop acid from shuttered gold mines leaching into the water supply of Johannesburg by the end of April.

Commissioning has begun after building work on the drainage project started last January in Germiston, east of Johannesburg, according to the Department of Water Affairs.

Acid water seeping from old mines is accumulating under Johannesburg and if left untreated could pollute its water supply or flood the city. The sulfuric acid and other chemicals form as iron disulfide, known as fool’s gold, left in rocks from mining combines with rainwater seeping into the ground.

“The 319 million rand ($30 million) that will go to this project is part of a bigger 700 million rand that will be spent on projects rolled out for acid mine drainage," Marius Keet, a spokesman for the department, said today by phone. Mining companies such as Central Rand Gold Ltd. have donated equipment including pumps valued at about 35 million rand, Keet said.

Acid water under Johannesburg collected after a gold boom that started in the 1890s and lasted more than a century. It has been filling up underground cavities below the nation’s biggest city, according to a 2011 University of the Witwatersrand study.




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