The environmental impacts of mining are particularly severe in Gauteng Province. The
effects on water resources and soil quality are possibly the most important. Although many
of the mines are no longer operational, the environmental legacy of mining impacts still
needs to be addressed. Currently there are smaller mining operations, such as quarries,
which can have high negative impact on the environment and which need to be controlled and
managed by the Environmental Planning line function in the southern parts of the city in
co-ordination with other government bodies (the Government Mining Engineer and the
Provincial Environmental Directorate).
The city of Johannesburg has its roots in gold mining. The
resultant legacy is a proliferation of mine tailings in a broad belt spanning the south of
the CBD and abutting the residential areas in the south. Whilst less mining is taking
place now than in the past, older mine dumps are being reworked and shifted as the gold
price and technology make this process viable. However, natural decomposition of the iron
pyrites contents of these tailings leads to acidic leachate contamination of the
areas surface water.
Dust from the mine dumps, another environmental pressure,
faces local communities, specifically in situations where no or inadequate mitigation
measures have been applied to tailing services. With the improvement in extraction
technology, many of the mine tailings have been and are being reprocessed for its residual
gold content. Consequently, exposed land may become available for development where there
are no shallow mines or where radioactive contaminated soil is no longer a factor.
CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT
Land pollution from the residential areas of Greater
Johannesburg generally relates to litter and the product of overflowing sewers during
rainfall events, and most importantly from ignorance (lack of litter awareness). Soil
pollution from city center areas - Hillbrow, Newtown and Jeppestown - result from the
contamination by raw sewage which occurs on a continuous basis, irregular maintenance to
sewers and overcrowding which puts immense strain on urban services.
INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS - SEWERAGE
- Through direct contact with bacterial agents found in
excreta people may become exposed to a wide range of illnesses e.g. diarrhoeal diseases,
cholera, typhoid fever and helminthic infections.
- Inappropriate disposal of waste may lead to fatal illnesses
amongst young children as well as poisoning and incidents of suffocation.
- Organic waste attracts rodents and insects and may cause
gastrointestinal and parasitic diseases.
- The most frequent complaints from the Alexandra area are
related to mice, rats and "bedbug" infestations.