Meeting SummaryThe Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) pointed out the problem that the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) was not written at a practical level that would assist, e.g. municipalities, to achieve the foreseen objectives. Neither did it provide short-, medium- and long-term objectives or time-frames for implementation. That was why CSIR suggested the development of detailed Action Plans to practically support each of the goals of the NWMS. Moreover, the NWMS had a five-year time horizon based on the review cycle, but CSIR suggested that it should provide objectives beyond those five years.
The Committee agreed strongly with both proposals. However, CSIR emphasised that it was difficult to measure those targets in the absence of formal monitoring programmes. It became clear in response to a question by the Chairperson that it would be difficult and time consuming to gather all the information that was necessary. Another very important issue that was raised was the one of ongoing and consistent awareness campaigns that were needed.
EnviroServ focused on the flawed definitions of waste and by-product in the National Environmental Management Waste Act (No. 59 of 2008) and suggested amendments. Furthermore, EnviroServ observed that although the NWMS stated that “disposal Guidelines will also be developed for thermal waste treatment”, these had already been developed as the National Policy on Thermal Treatment of General and Hazardous Waste as published in the Government Gazette No.32439, 24 July 2009.
The Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) pointed out that not all mining waste was excluded by Section 4(1)(b) of the Waste Act. Only waste for reuse or sustainably disposed of waste was excluded. The presentation of FSE dealt with mining wastes apart from these two categories. The release to the environment of mining waste could result in profound, generally irreversible destruction of ecosystems. Waste from gold mines constituted the largest single source of waste and pollution in
The Chairperson asked what mining waste was not included under the definition of waste. FSE referred to the exclusion under Section 4(1)(b) of the Waste Act stating that waste governed by the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (No. 28 of 2002) did not fall under the Waste Act. Everything which was stored in mines had potential re-use and was hence covered by the Act. Therefore, any waste which had not been stored for re-use and had migrated was not excluded by the Waste Act. FSE’s presentation was about abandoned, migrated waste, not waste that had been stored.
It was discussed whether mining waste was completely excluded and whether the Committee should deal with that area in the first place. The Committee disagreed with the contention that all environmental issues dealing with mining fell within the jurisdiction of the Department of Mineral Resources, they should rather be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Water Affairs (DWA).
Members raised the issue of waste outside the mining site. What started on the physical property of a mine and had been stored for re-use could move elsewhere. Members also wanted to know what the response of the Department of Mineral Resources was to issues of mining waste.
The Association of Cementitious Material Producers (ACMP) divided the goals and 2016 targets into three groups: the first group was awareness which included promoting waste minimisation, re-use, recycling and recovery of waste; the second group was institutional development comprising of ensuring the effective and efficient delivery of waste services, growth of the contribution of the waste sector to the green economy, achieving integrated waste management planning, ensuring sound budgeting and financial management for waste services and providing measures to rehabilitate contaminated land; and the third group was enforcement referred to establishing effective compliance with and enforcement of the Waste Act.
ACMP drew comparisons to the definitions of waste in the European Union (EU),
The Committee was surprised. Cement could not be waste. ACMP demanded that substances used to produce cement should not be defined as waste because of amongst other reasons its imminent use rather than potential use in the future. This caused confusion. In the understanding of the Committee there seemed to be a problem where there was no problem. The cement industry wanted the obstacles that occurred, because the industry was using waste when producing cement, to be taken away. The products put into cement fell within the definition of waste, therefore ACMP wanted to change the definition. ACMP was asked by the Committee to send all definitions from the EU,
Eskom explained that ash was previously specifically excluded as waste. Eskom produced 36 million tonnes of ash annually, but was currently selling only two million tonnes of ash. Globally, most countries used more than 60% of the ash, whereas
Since two million tonnes were being sold annually already, there was nothing to stop Eskom from selling all 36 million tonnes. Hence, there was currently no problem but Eskom anticipated problems in the future. There was no specification that once ash went into another product it ceased to be ash. The definition did not describe when the product ceased to be waste.
However, the Committee remarked that Eskom’s product ash went into cement, but cement was not regarded as waste. It found that what was desired was a simple guideline saying that cement was not waste. Eskom gave examples from the
The Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) also talked about problems with the definitions of waste and by-product. On the proposed amendments for the definition of waste it had been already debated during the previous presentations. With regard to by-product, PAMSA remarked that the requirement that a by-product must have the characteristics of equivalent virgin product or material gave significant difficulties. Yet, in many cases there was no equivalent virgin product or material for the particular application question. Thereby, some materials would be excluded from the definition of by-product and automatically classified as waste. This created a disincentive to use large quantities of waste and significant waste strings for commercial purposes.
The Chamber of Mines (CM) represented 90% of the mining production in
Members of the Committee agreed that the problem was not whether the mining companies were strictly adhering to the current legislation, but that it was an issue of reputation and therefore a question of morality, not of legality. The Committee wanted to convey to the CM the message that the mining industry should deal with some of the apartheid inequities caused by the fact that mining had been very politically powerful and the apartheid state did not care about environmental standards when it came to mining, or else would continue suffering from great damage to reputation and wished that CM would convey this message to its members as well. The question of acid mine drainage was also raised by the Members.
The recommendations of the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) included: to encourage environmentally sustainable sanitation service delivery, to promote integrated development planning-prioritisation of sanitation service delivery, to address the sanitation needs and priorities of people, to promote environmentally sound sanitation services in conjunction with all human settlements and to plan for sustainable sanitation service delivery.
Members of the Committee argued that sanitation did not fit into the NWMS. They wanted to know why sanitation was excluded from the Waste Strategy, while it was not one of the four exclusions of the Act. They saw only one possible answer – that sanitation did not fall under the definition of waste. However, this was not the answer given by the Department of Human Settlements. The DHS could license waste water treatment plan because it was in the list of activities. Waste went through treatment, the waste water treatment programme, and DHS was currently operating waste water treatment plan for which it had given authorisation. The discussion came forth to the conclusion that sanitation was not excluded from the definition and was included under a treatment plan, but somehow the Department did not see that sanitation was part of the NMWS.
CSIR Review of the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS)
Dr Linda Godfrey, CSIR Principal Researcher: Pollution & Waste, outlined the key issues that had consistently come up in the organisational review of the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS). The NWMS touched on what had been contentious but policy-silent issues within the waste sector over the past decade, such as the regionalisation of waste facilities, landfill pickers and reclaimers, and thermal waste treatment (slide 3). The intention of the NWMS was to provide step-by-step guidance on how to achieve the goals of the Act. Unfortunately, the NWMS was not written at a practical level that would assist, e.g. municipalities, to achieve the objectives. Neither did it provide short-, medium- and long-term objectives or time-frames for implementation, e.g. development of standards. Hence, CSIR suggested the development of detailed Action Plans (more so than Appendix 1) to practically support each of the goals of the NWMS (as were developed for the 1999 NWMS).
The Chairperson commented that the development of more detailed Action Plans was highly desirable.
Dr Godfrey continued by stating that the NWMS had a five-year time horizon based on the review cycle, but should provide objectives beyond those five years (slide 4).
The Chairperson agreed strongly with that proposal as well.
However, Dr Godfrey emphasised that it was difficult to measure those targets in the absence of formal monitoring programmes. For example, there were no details about the number of jobs created in the waste sector (slide 6). In addition, for many of the targets, the absence of a baseline made monitoring (and achievement) difficult, e.g. 25% of recyclables had diverted from landfill sites for reuse/recycling. Moreover, some targets only required a yes/no, which was insufficient, e.g. 80% of municipalities had been running awareness campaign, without detail of its content, effectiveness or impact. Lastly, some targets were counter-intuitive, e.g. there was a 50% increase in enforcement actions, but decline was expected. CSIR supported the Government’s move towards correct pricing of waste to address low cost of land-filling, lack of cost recovery, and its impact on equipment and infrastructure investment (municipalities), and the establishing of a viable reuse/recycling sector (slide 7). Going hand-in-hand with that was the compliance and enforcement issue. Long-term issues should include social and environmental costs. Next, awareness campaigns were very important, but they had to be ongoing and consistent in order to maintain the message (slide 8).
The Chairperson asked whether CSIR was part of any of the structures of the Department.
Dr Godfrey replied that CSIR had regularly been invited to make presentations and actively participate in discussions, but was not part of these structures.
The Chairperson was very pleased with the presented skills of CSIR and wished that it would be represented in all structures. He mentioned the excellent issue of raising awareness. Beyond the five-year horizon, he emphasised the issues of empowerment of the private sector. However, he was concerned about the lacking of any databases, where were we to start then?
Dr Godfrey said that it was a very time consuming process and hence it would take a lot of time to gather the information needed.
The Chairperson thanked CSIR for the very useful presentation.
Mr Johan Schoonraad, EnviroServ Technical Director, started with the definition of waste in the National Environmental Management Waste Act (No. 59 of 2008) (Waste Act). According to EnviroServ, the flawed definition in the Act impacted all subsequent Strategies, Regulations, Guidelines and others. It hindered the implementation of the objectives of the Act and many “waste” materials could not be removed due to the use of the word “and” instead of “or” in the wording: “…(ii) any portion of waste, once re-used, recycled and recovered, ceases to be waste”. However, it was not always possible to implement all three processes. Therefore, the definition should be: “…(ii) any portion of waste, once re-used, recycled or recovered, ceases to be waste”.
The Chairperson agreed that the definition must be changed.
According to the Waste Act, a ‘‘’by-product’’’ is a substance that is produced as part of a process that is primarily intended to produce another substance or product and that has the characteristics of an equivalent virgin product or material”. Yet, in many cases there was no “equivalent virgin product or material”. In that case, the material automatically became a “waste”. Hence, EnviroServ proposed a simplification as follows: ‘‘’by-product’’’ means a substance that is produced as part of a process that is primarily intended to produce another substance or product”.
Furthermore, the NWMS stated that “disposal Guidelines will also be developed for thermal waste treatment”, but in EnviroServ’s understanding these had already been developed as the National Policy on Thermal Treatment of General and Hazardous Waste as published in the Government Gazette No.32439 of 24 July 2009 (slide 4). In addition, the emission standards in Section 21 of the Act had already been published.
As far as mechanisms for developing standards as referred to on page 41 of 74 (paragraph 3.3.1) were concerned, the first paragraph of the NWMS stated “The development of complex technical standards that must be scientifically exact will use the standard setting procedure of the South African Technical Infrastructure (SATI), which falls under the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS)”. A snapshot of the Framework for the Management of Contaminated Land was shown on slide 5. EnviroServ found that there was a mismatch between what the NWMS said and what had been done. Information from the outside was needed. Hence, Mr Schoonraad demanded more clarity and information.
The Chairperson summarised the presented inputs. The day before that meeting, a guideline explaining the definition was given. The Chairperson suggested that the drafting of a guide or a manual for the whole strategy as a simplified practical guide would be a worthwhile endeavour.
Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE)
Ms Mariette Liefferink, FSE CEO, introduced the presentation by arguing that abandoned mining waste and mining waste outside of mine properties should be classified as priority waste in terms of the NWMS and this waste should be remediated as a matter of priority and urgency (slide 2). Not all mining waste was excluded by section 4(1)(b) of the Waste Act. Only waste for reuse or sustainably disposed of waste was excluded ( Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) (No. 28 of 2002) definition of residue stockpiles). The presentation of FSE dealt with mining wastes apart from the last two categories. The release to the environment of mining waste could result in profound, generally irreversible destruction of ecosystems (slide 3). The mining of Witwaterstrand - the world’s largest gold and uranium mining basin (1600 km2), for more than 120 years by more than 120 mining companies had resulted in 410 km2 of mining waste, 270 tailings dams, 6 billion tons of pyrite tailings and 430 000 tons low-grade uranium (slide 4).
Waste from gold mines constituted the largest single source of waste and pollution in
There were approximately 380 mine residue areas (MRAs) in
Pollution related to
Slide 8 presented an airborne radiometric image. The red illustrated elevation in radioactivity.
A Draft Regional Mine Closure Strategy for the West Rand Goldfield undertaken by the Department of Mineral Resources revealed that many of the residential areas (Carletonville, Westonarea, Khutsong, Kagiso, Randfontein) fell within areas of high risk of radioactivity contamination (slide 9).
Slide 11 showed uranium concentration. Any number above 1 represented a health and an environmental risk, the numbers on the graph represented by circles in red were above 10. A photo of airborne pollution during dry winter months on slide 13 contained both radioactive and toxic heavy metals. If small particles of gas were inhaled (less than 10 microns) and entered the lungs, there would be a radiotoxic impact for up to 40 years. If biggest particles were ingested especially by children, the digestive system would break down the uranium particles and they would be stored in the bones. This could have a genetic impact from 100 to 500 years.
More than 1.6 million residents lived in informal settlements either on or adjacent to MRA’s (slide 18).
To limit the risk due to external gamma radiation, the Chamber of Mines used a guideline that each tailings deposit should have a 500 m buffer zone surrounding it, where no human settlement was allowed (slide 19). Unfortunately, in the development of new settlements this guideline had seldom been adhered to.
As provided by the Department of Mineral Resources, airborne gamma ray survey data had been collected by the Council of Geoscience covering the Central Rand Goldfield (slide 21). These data identified areas of elevated radioactivity. Elevated radioactivity levels were recorded over mining areas, in particular mine residue deposits. There had been a historical migration of generally elevated radioactive levels to the urban areas of
FSE had found that there was considerable lack of management regarding tailing spillages that remained unregulated and unenforced (slide 22). The Water Research Commission reported elevated levels of radioactivity of 100 000 bq/kg while the regulatory limits were 500 bg/kg (slide 23). In addition, there were no warning signs in place. The final slides dealt with acid mine drainage. In conclusion, FSE recommended that the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs should identify and develop plans for safe disposal of these wastes and/or remediation in conjunction with other relevant departments.
The Chair asked what mining waste was not included under the definition.
Ms Angela Andrews, Legal Resources Centre, referred to the exclusion under Section 4(1)(b) of the Waste Act stating that waste governed by the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (No. 28 of 2002) did not fall under the Waste Act. The definition specifically referred to waste that had been disposed of or stored for re-use. Therefore, any waste which had not been stored for reuse and had migrated, was not excluded by the Waste Act. FSE’s presentation was about abandoned, migrated waste, not waste that had been stored.
The Chairperson shared his impression that mining waste was completely excluded. Moreover, he asked for clarification about what exactly of the Mining Strategy was related to the NWMS; if the vast majority of the area was excluded, then this was not an area to deal with by the Committee.
Ms Liefferink said that the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (No. 28 of 2002) required of a mine to have an environmental management programme report which would become legally binding. However, this was only applicable to operating mines. If there were spillages or migration of radioactive and toxic waste, this was not regulated by the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act. The National Nuclear Regulator Act (No. 47 of 1999) regulated radioactivity and radioactive waste by issuing a certificate of registration which, however, was only applicable to waste on the mine property of the specific mine. Anything which was outside these areas was not regulated and currently fell out of the mandate of these organs of state. Hence, somebody had to regulate it. If it was not the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs that was responsible, then there should be at least a cooperative agreement entered into.
The Chairperson mentioned that these issues had been discussed between the two Departments and that the Committee disagreed with the contention that all environmental issues dealing with mining fell within the jurisdiction of the Department of Mineral Resources, they should rather be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Water Affairs (DWA).
Mr G Morgan (DA) thanked for the presentation. He sought clarification about those areas outside the mining side. A mine had its physical size. The waste was related to the physical space where it was located, hence Mr Morgan thought that somewhere around this was the problem. He disagreed with the suggestion of the mining sector having its own environmental processes, although he conceived of a situation where it would be done very well. What was the response of the Department of Mineral Resources to issues of mining waste? It arguably could be good, but his impression from FSE’s presentation was that it was not satisfactory.
Ms Andrews referred again to the statutory definition of waste which was stored or accumulated for potential reuse. This required a positive act by the mining company saying that it would like to reuse the waste, then it would be excluded by the Waste Act, but everything else was included. Therefore, it was not a question of what should be done or not, it was a question of what the Act said.
The Chairperson added that the issues discussed went into many other areas of responsibility. He felt uncomfortable with the fact that, in his view, the discussion did not fall under the NWMS.
The Department of Water Affairs quoted the definition of residue stockpile from Section 1 of the Waste Act: “residue stockpile means any debris, discard, tailings, slimes, screening, slurry, waste rock, foundry sand, beneficiation plant waste, ash or any other product derived from or incidental to a mining operation and which is stockpiled, stored or accumulated for potential re-use, or which is disposed of, by the holder of a mining right, mining permit or production right”. Everything which was stored in mines had potential re-use and was hence covered by the Act. That definition covered the type of waste that FSE presented about. The Waste Act specifically excluded radioactive waste, hence the Waste Act did not apply to radioactive waste.
Mr Morgan thanked for the definition. However, he still felt uncomfortable about the geography of that because waste moved through the air, through the water. What started on the physical property of a mine, could move and end elsewhere. What if the waste of the mine, which had potential re-use, had migrated from where it had been stored in the mine, was the owner of the mine going to re-claim it?
The Chair said that the definition was the problem because it did not say where the waste had to be.
Mr Morgan disagreed that the only thing that could be done was to merely say that the definition was the problem, rather it should be acknowledged that there was a problem and then it should be worked out how to solve it.
The Chairperson thanked FSE and Members for the interesting debate and appreciated FSE’s passion for the topic.
Association of Cementitious Material Products (ACMP)
Dr Dhiraj Rama, ACMP Executive Director, presented four principles of the NWMS supported by the ACMP: context, understanding hierarchy of waste, goals and targets, and the definition of waste as the key barrier (slide 3). The goals and 2016 targets of the NWMS could be divided into three groups: the one of awareness which included promoting waste minimisation, re-use, recycling and recovery of waste as well as ensuring that people were aware of the impact of waste on their health, well-being and the environment; the second group was the one of institutional development comprising of ensuring the effective and efficient delivery of waste services, growth of the contribution of the waste sector to the green economy; achieving integrated waste management planning; ensuring sound budgeting and financial management for waste services and finally, providing measures to remediate contaminated land (slide 5). The third group of enforcement referred to establishing effective compliance with and enforcement of the Waste Act.
Cleaner production (CP) referred to a continuous application of an integrated preventative environmental strategy applied to processes, and services to increase eco-efficiency and reduce risks to humans and the environment (slide 8). The focus of CP was on prevention rather than on treatment which required a change in process management to reduce excess inputs and better utilise the non-product output ("waste" and by-products). This would lead to reduced ecological damage from raw material extraction and the risk of emissions during processes. Some examples of the NWMS targets were reduced ecological damage; reduction of waste/land-filling; utilisation of secondary products and energy efficiency optimisation.
One recommendation of ACMP suggested a review of the goals and targets in the context of the current status quo (slide 10). A case study of the cement sector was given on slide 11. It showed that CO2 emissions were already significantly reduced. Alternative energy sources were already in use and created new jobs. On slide 19 Dr Rama draw a comparison to international approaches as to defining waste, such as by the EU,
Dr Rama said that online you could buy any product as defined in the EU,
The Chairperson wanted to know what was it that was called waste but ACMP did not want it to be classified that way.
Dr Rama replied that cement was defined as waste, but nowhere in the world was it classified as such. A waste ceased to be a waste when it went through recycling or recovering.
The Chairperson was surprised, cement could not be waste. ACMP thought that cement fell under the definition of waste, whereas the Department of Water Affairs did not think so. In that case, ACMP should not have any problem but it was still claiming a change of the definition of waste. The Chairperson wanted to know whether the Department had put any obligations on the cement industry connected to cement being waste. This was not the case because cement was not regarded as waste.
Dr Rama wanted it to be defined as by-product because of its imminent use rather than potential use in the future.
The Chairperson thought that there seemed to be a problem where there was no problem. To him, the cement industry wanted the obstacles that occurred because the industry was using waste when producing cement to be taken away.
Mr Morgan wanted a final clarification. Something which went into the creation of cement was currently regarded as being waste.
Dr Rama confirmed that this was the case.
Mr Morgan further referred to the hierarchy of waste: anything which was going into the making of cement as a product, which was not waste, could not be waste either, because it had another use, whereas waste was only the end of the hierarchy, which had no possibility of re-use, recovery and recycling.
The Chairperson clarified that yet, according to the current definition, those things were regarded as waste. The products put into cement fell within the definition of waste, therefore ACMP wanted to change the definition. He asked Dr Rama to send the Committee all definitions he referred to from the EU,
The Chairperson called Eskom to make its presentation. He said that in the area of polluting Eskom was a serial polluter.
Mr Vusi Mboweni, Eskom Senior General Manager, said that Eskom regarded itself as a provider of energy that drove the economy, but it would take the definition of polluters into consideration as well.
Ms Deidre Herbst, Senior Environmental Manager, Eskom, started by pointing out that ash was previously specifically excluded as waste. Thus, the ash disposal facilities that Eskom operated and the utilisation of ash was never constrained in terms of the way Eskom reused and recycled ash. Eskom produced 36 million tonnes of ash annually, but was currently selling only 2 million tonnes of ash (slide 4). At least 11 million tonnes were available for reuse and recovery on an annual basis. Globally, most countries used more than 60% of the ash, whereas
The Chairperson said that already two million tonnes were being sold annually, so there was nothing to stop Eskom from selling all 36 million tonnes. Hence, he did not understand what the problem was.
Ms Herbst answered that there could be a problem in the future. There was no specification that once ash went into another product it ceased to be ash. The definition did not describe when the product ceased to be waste.
However, the Chairperson replied that Eskom’s product ash went into cement, but cement was not regarded as waste.
Ms Herbst relied on examples from the
The Chairperson summarized that a simple guideline was desired saying that cement was not waste.
Ms Herbst emphasised that Eskom would like to make sure that when something was once utilised for other means, it would be never classified as waste.
The Chairperson clarified that this had never happened in
Ms Herbst said that ash was not classified as waste under the original definition of the Waste Act. However, Eskom still needed to go through the process of licensing under the transitional arrangements and during this process, the definition could get in the way of Eskom’s approach of utilisation of ash.
The Chairperson found licensing very logical – once something was a waste and someone wanted to use it again, they would need a licence for it. But at the moment there was no problem. The Chairperson ensured that when the Committee would deal with amendments of the Act, it would take Eskom’s comments into consideration. He added that the Committee might undertake an oversight visit to Eskom in July but it could be a surprise visit.
Paper Manufacturers Association of
The Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) gave an oral presentation and said that PAMSA’s members represented more than 90% of the paper manufacturers in
One of the cornerstones of the Waste Act was reduction, reuse, recycling or recovery of waste and as a last resort treatment of disposal. The implementation of sustainable national waste strategy had significant dumping block and the definitions of waste and by-product in the Waste Act were highly problematic. With regard to waste, the second part of the exclusion of what fell under the definition was problematic.
The Chairperson said that the Committee agreed that this part must be changed. Next, the facility which stored the waste that had a commercial value must ordinarily be licensed until that waste had been reused, recycled or recovered. The need to obtain a waste management licence created a disincentive to use that waste. The Chairperson asked why.
PAMSA answered that the process of obtaining a licence was taking time and was very expensive, but could not give exact figures. Another problem, according to PAMSA, was the definition of by-product. The requirement that a by-product must also have the characteristics of equivalent virgin product or material gave significant difficulties. Yet, in many cases there was no equivalent virgin product or material for the particular application question. Thereby, some materials would be excluded from the definition of by-product and automatically classified as waste. This created again a disincentive to use large quantities of waste and significant waste strings for commercial purposes. Hence, PAMSA asked for the review of the definitions of waste and by-product. It wished that proper consultations with government and industry stakeholders would take place thereby assuring the alignment to the Waste Act and the Air Quality Act (No. 39 of 2004). In absence of that consultation process, PAMSA proposed an amendment of the exclusion of the definition of waste which should read that “of any portion of waste being stored for re-use, recycling or recovery, is not waste provided that it is stored in accordance with the prescribed norms and standards” which still needed to be defined. PAMSA also suggested an amendment of the definition of by-product by the deletion of “the characteristics of equivalent product or material” and substation by “provided that it is stored in accordance with the prescribed norms and standards” which again needed to be defined first.
The Chairperson commented that these amendments were very similar to the ones already proposed in the meeting.
Chamber of Mines (CM)
Mr Nikisi Lesufi, CM Senior Executive: Health and Safety, said that the Chamber of Mines of South Africa , represented 90% of the mining production in
The Chairperson asked whether NWMS applied to CM.
Mr Lesufi answered in the affirmative and gave as an example licensing to keep mining waste on site.
The Chairperson was surprised because the Waste Act did not apply to mines and yet they needed licences.
Ms Stephina Mudau, CM Head: Environment, said that, with regard to general waste, hazardous waste and others, the Act did apply to mining. This was attributed to the problem of duplication of regulatory requirements – even though a mining company would have an environmental management programme, the waste component would be approved by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).
The Chairperson requested examples of waste. Ms Mudau mentioned office paper, general waste and any domestic waste that was generated in a mine. Both the Department of Environmental Affairs and DMR were regulating it. According to the Committee, it was wrong that the Department of Mineral Resources was dealing with all these issues together.
The Chairperson encouraged CM to forward to the Committee if it had any problems with licensing because that was what the Committee was there for – to follow up on problematic issues.
Mr Morgan asked to what extent CM regarded the waste that had migrated as falling outside or not of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (No. 28 of 2002). He referred to the question posed by Ms Liefferink from FSE of whether those categories of waste should be declared as priority waste under the NWMS and whether that kind of waste had a potential reuse.
Ms J Manganye (ANC) emphasised the issue of burning of tyres. Since mines were dumping tyres next to schools, some kind of regulation was needed. As an example, near Ms Manganye’s home, Imbawula Mines was doing such a thing.
Mr Lesufi said that the question of burning tyres fell within the issue of responsibility of the mining companies. Mining companies were supposed to have an environmental management programme. Within that programme, there must be a waste management plan which included obligations and responsibilities. If the mine was not managing according to its commitments, it had to face the consequences. The issue of responsibility was also touching on Mr Morgan’s question. Most of the problems were not lack of legislative tools, but rather lack of enforcement. The responsibility of the mine was to manage its cleaning facility in a proper way, any rubber from the site would be illegal. And this was not a question of lack of law, but rather of lack of performance – both of the mining companies and the law enforcer.
The Chairperson agreed with that. However, he wished the CM had said that although it did not have responsibility for old things from the past, it should have admitted what it had contributed to the problem. South Africans were very forgiving people. There was a huge problem costing a huge amount of money and the only people that were paying were the taxpayers. And the longer term solutions would cost billions of rand. The Chairperson expressed the opinion that CM should take part in the direct solution of the problem although it might not have been directly responsible for causing it. Otherwise it would take a long time to change people’s views of the mining industry. Maybe then it would be possible to look more specifically at the particular culprits and not the industry as a whole. AMD was indeed a very big problem and was worrying many people. Hence, the Chairperson suggested that some of the industries that had created the problem should come forward and contribute and be part of the solution.
Dr S Huang (ANC) was concerned that only 250 out of 1 500 mines belonged to the CM which constituted less than 20% of all mines. Hence, he was worried about the majority of 80% of the mines. DMR and DWA needed to engage with that majority.
Mr Lesufi clarified that the Chamber represented 250 operations but they accounted for 90% of the production, so that the rest of 1 250 mines represented only 10% of the production.
Another Member of the Committee referred to acid mine drainage and asked what the Department saw as a threat to the lives of people and what best could the Department do.
The Chairperson said that the DWA rarely dealt with acid mine drainage and if it had comments to make, it could do so, but it was not its area of expertise.
Mr Lesufi answered that acid mine drainage (AMD) was indeed a problem, but he would like to give a perspective from the mine industry. People had to understand that the problem of acid mine drainage had three facets. The first facet was that current mining companies had to have a water use licence and in that licence they had acquired a water resource management responsibility. Thus, any acid mine drainage that ran out of a mine property was either authorised or illegal.
The Chairperson asked in what form was that water released from a mine, whether it was completely pure or not.
Mr Lesufi answered that the form of the water was in accordance with the conditions of the license. The second facet of the nature of the acid mine drainage problem referred to historical and legacy problems that were intertwined with current mining operations. The problems in this area arose from the difficulties of delineating the responsibilities between historical problems and current operations. That was subject of debate between the affected parties as to whether there were good corporate responsible policies and others. But it was the subject of the companies and the state in terms of the delineation of responsibility between the two overlapping areas. The third facet referred to the abundance of ownerless and derelict sites – either the state had to identify the culprits and make them responsible or in the absence of a responsible party, the state had to take responsibility for immediate measures; this was how it was done around the world.
Mr Morgan acknowledged the problem of implementation, but wanted to comment on it. Mining had always had a special deal in
Mr Lesufi did not accept Mr Morgan’s comment since it was not CM that made the rules. He had already indicated that if there was no compliance with legislation, the responsible person should bear the consequences no matter how powerful or influential they could be. The past we had inherited, the future we desire. Those who were responsible in the past, should not be able to avoid responsibility. The history of mining was similar to the history of apartheid, the only difference was that the National Party was not there to point fingers. Furthermore, Mr Lesufi disagreed that CM had disproportionate influence on the Government. CM might express its opinion, but it would not be necessarily taken into consideration.
The Chairperson observed that Mr Lesufi and Mr Morgan were talking past each other. Mr Morgan was referring more of the legacies and reputationally the mining industry was currently not doing anything to try and help with the legacy. It might be complying strictly with the law because the laws in this sector were only coming into being now, but if the industry did not come forward and deal with some of those apartheid inequities it would continue suffering from great reputational damage. That was the message the Committee wanted to convey to the CM and wished it would convey it to its members. The people that granted licences for mining were the ones that also regulated all aspects of mining. He gave as an example Eskom – it was from the past, but nevertheless, the Department of Trade and Industry would now not be given the right to regulate the environmental issues in that industry, because it fell under the environment. The reputational issue was a question of mortality, not of legality – it was a question of how did the mining industry feel about what happened in the past.
Department of Human Settlements (DHS) presentation
The Chairperson mentioned that this Department was supposed to come to the Committee the day before, but it did not. Neither did it give notice which showed disrespect for Parliament. He therefore asked the Committee whether he should allow the Department to present today. One Member agreed as long as the representatives considered themselves reprimanded. The Chair gave the floor to the representative of the Department of Human Settlements and asked the Department to explain why it was absent the previous day without prior notice or excuse.
Ms Mandisa Mangqalaza, DHS Director: Sanitation, apologised for arriving late the day before and when the Chairperson was adjourning the meeting. There had been a problem with the flight. The Chairperson accepted the apology.
Next, Ms Mangqalaza drew attention to the definition of sanitation as found in the Draft White Paper on National Sanitation Policy, Version 4.1 2012 (slide 3) and concluded that sanitation was left behind. With regard to the regulation required for sludge management, the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act (No. 39 of 2004), the Environmental Conservation Act (No. 73 of 1998), the National Water Act (No. 36 of 1998), the National Health and Hygiene Strategy, the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (No. 43 of 1983), and the Water Services Act (No. 108 of 1997), which were relating to sanitation implementation and provision, should be emphasised in the strategy as they were not properly implemented and had been given a passive role (slide 4). The Water Services Act specifically required that details of existing and proposed water conservation, recycling and environmental protection measures must be included in the Water Services Development Plan which was a component of the Integrated Development Plan (IDP). Furthermore, the strategy should point out the authorisation for waste water disposal (disposal site permit) (slide 5). How sludge was being used in agricultural practices needed to be regulated as well. There was also sludge as a resource, e.g. compost, pellets for fuel and bricks superior in strength and less absorption rate, landfill cover material- achievement of sustainable (eThekwini Declaration). The strategy had to emphasise in technical reports how sludge should be managed and what was to be done with those that were not complying with the standards. Guidelines for the negative impact on fauna and flora, water resources and land quality in general were also essential.
The National Health and Hygiene Strategy, the Green Drop Programme and the Groundwater Protocol should also be part of the strategy (slide 6). It also had to include how to manage contamination from on-site sanitation. According to the Department of Human Settlements, the strategy should furthermore include mechanisms to monitor the implementation of all sanitation systems in terms of their environmental impacts and compliance such as appraisal of project technical reports; compliance in terms of the submission of project groundwater protocol reports; monthly regional monitoring and evaluation reports on all sanitation projects; local and district municipal forums and provincial and national forums ; sanitation project sustainability audits; management of full pits and discharge of effluent to water sources (slide 7).
The recommendations of the Department of Human Settlements included: to encourage environmentally sustainable sanitation service delivery, to promote integrated development planning-prioritisation of sanitation service delivery, to address the sanitation needs and priorities of people (informal settlements, rural & urban areas and farm dwellers), to promote environmentally sound sanitation services in conjunction with all human settlements and to plan for sustainable sanitation service delivery (slide 8).
In conclusion, job creation generated from sanitation service delivery programmes needed to come out clearly in the strategy (slide 9). Goals 1, 3 and 4 were very silent about sanitation but mentioned other waste sources like paper, pesticides, etc. Goal 7 did mention the remediation of contaminated land and it was assumed that the Ground Water Protocol was included.
The Chairperson asked where sanitation fitted into the strategy.
Ms Cyprian Magubane, DHS Director, cited Schedule 4, Part B of the Constitution about local government.
The Chairperson said that this was not helpful. He demanded to know why sanitation was excluded from the Waste Strategy. He said that someone wrongly gave sanitation to the DHS but that this was not an answer.
Ms Magubane responded that the Waste Act did not give the Department of Human Settlements mandate to develop norms and services for sanitation services because it was not in the Act.
The Chairperson insisted on a more correct answer and refused to hear things that were not conducive to the Committee. Sanitation was not one of the four exclusions of the Act.
Ms Magubane repeated that the Department of Human Settlements could not develop norms and services for sanitation services because it was not in the Waste Act. The Department could license waste water treatment plan because it was in the list of activities.
The Chairperson asked how could things that were going into the soil and were washed out not be part of the definition?! He insisted on the fact that the area of sanitation was not particularly excluded. There must be some other reason why it was not included, but Ms Magubane was not saying it. There only could be one answer – that sanitation did not fall under the definition of waste. However, this was not the answer given by the Department of Human Settlements.
Another DHS representative said that waste went through treatment, the waste water treatment programme, and DHS was currently operating the waste water treatment plan for which it was given authorisation.
The Chairperson said that the issue of sanitation was one of the serious policy issues. With regard to the fact that the implementation of sanitation was in the DHS and the laws were in the DWA, how could that area come further through a Department that clearly did not have a unit and laws for sanitation? These were political decisions taken elsewhere, but the consequences were huge. The discussion came to the conclusion that sanitation was not excluded from the definition and was included under a treatment plan, but somehow the DHS did not see that sanitation was part of the NMWS. For the Chairperson, all norms and standards and policies should emanate from one source and that was the Waste Strategy. The implementation of it was a different question. The Chairperson appreciated the input and assured the representatives of DHS that the Committee was very worried about the issue of sanitation, not about waste, but about the actual way that sanitation was being dealt with by the Government. The Committee would find proper time to discuss the relevant issues and would invite all participating parties. He reminded Members and delegates that last year, in 2011, R1.2 billion that had been allocated for rural sanitation was not spent because of these problems.
Department of Water Affairs (DWA)
The Department of Water Affairs had been late the previous day as well, but the Director-General had taken care of the apology the evening before the current meeting, so the Chair invited the present representatives to give their input now.
Mr Musekene Nkhumeleni, DWA Scientist: Water Monitoring, said that the presentation would focus on regulator issues, cooperative authorisations, compliance monitoring and enforcement, alignment legislation and interlinking that with other projects and programmes that the Department was currently enforcing. DWA acknowledged that the complexity of the waste stream and failure to manage it properly may lead to pollution of both ground water and surface water (slide 4). That had been a main concern of DWA. There should be some kind of regulation as to how to deal with the issues of outdated infrastructure that were not supporting the protection of water resources. The lack of compliant landfills and hazardous waste management would cause more problems to the water. Issues of illegal dumping of waste in water resources should be kept through issues of compliance, monitoring and enforcement. Waste treatment options were more expensive than the cost of dispose of waste. DWA had identified areas of collaborations and engagement through which a Memorandum of Agreement had been developed between DWA and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) as to how to ensure that the water was protected efficiently (slide 5). As an example, Section 49(2) of the Co-operative Authorisation in terms of Chapter 5 (from 01 July 2009) National Environmental Management: Waste Act 2008, Licensing of Waste Management Activities stated: “A decision to grant an application for a waste management licence in respect of a waste disposal facility is subject to concurrence of the Minister of Water Affairs” (slide 7).
The Chairperson asked for clarification between the different licences Mr Nkhumeleni was talking about.
Mr Nkhumeleni said that the one was licence for water use, whereas DEA was talking about licences for actual disposal of waste. If an applicant applied for the disposal in a landfill site, the Department would request DWA for record of decision (RoD) to put conditions for the applicant to ensure protection of the water. The RoD would be issued within 60 days. Hence, the applicant would apply to DEA, but the DWA would give conditions because of the pollution implications. DWA had been part of the technical committee in developing Draft National Standards of Regulations (slide 8). The Chairperson requested copies of all drafts. DWA had further developed guidelines for sewage sludge (slide 12). Finally, DWA was developing a Waste Discharge Charge System to look at different polluters, give incentives and make charges within the existing laws (slide 13). The information slides (slide 14-20) constituted what DWA recommended that could be used for containment in waste facilities to protect leaches into the ground water. DWA had also provided those inputs to the Department of Environmental Affairs together with the conditions how to apply for water use licences.
The Chairperson thanked the DWA for the presentation.
He remarked that it had been a very interesting meeting and many useful issues had arisen, such as creating action plans for each goal, looking beyond the five years, and the amendments proposed to the definition. He wanted a document to be drafted on what had been presented and he requested to have a report in three months. Furthermore, in three months time he would like to know how far one would come with the simplified practical version of the strategy. Once a practical version was available, he suggested making it accessible to ordinary people by issuing practical guides for them.
The issue of sanitation would be added into the framework. For the Chairperson, it was very clear that the issue of sanitation had to be reconsidered because it was part of waste. If environmental standards would be set, then the Department of Human Settlements should be held accountable for not complying with them. Hence, the Chairperson requested that the report should be much clearer on the sanitation issue. The report should be ready by end of August.
He expressed his thanks again for all presentations. He wanted the presenting industries to know that by coming to the Committee they were also doing education and research which the Committee Members did not have the capacity to do. Research was very vital for MPs to help them understand whether the Government departments concerned were on track with what they wereeee doing.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Department of Water Affairs on National Waste Management Strategy
- Federation for Sustainable Environment submission
- Council for Scientific and Industrial Research submission
- Association of Cementitious Material Producers submission
- Chamber of Mines submission
- Department of Human Settlements Sanitation submission
- EnviroServe submission
- Eskom Environmental Management submission
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting