Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT has said a sustainable environment rehabilitation levy is on the cards targeting players in the mining sector which is blamed for severely damaging the environment.
In an interview Friday, 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. 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 again. 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,” said Minister Ndlovu.
He said even mining companies have used legal loopholes to extract minerals without rehabilitating the environment they operate from and damage.
Minister Ndlovu said this has caused serious ecological damage needing urgent attention.
He 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. It’s a loophole that has been exploited where companies can say 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,” he said.
“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.” — @nqotshili