A critical evaluation of the challenges facing dust management within gold mining regions of South Africa
Martins, Jacobus Johannes
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Windblown dust remains a persistent problem within South African urban and peri-urban areas due to the prevailing dry climatic conditions, extensive surface mining and mineral processing. Despite deposition monitoring guidelines and national dust regulations, South Africa still has persistent dust problems in especially gold mining districts. The main aim of the research is to critically evaluate all the potential challenges within dust management which could be responsible for persistent dust problems within gold mining regions of South Africa. The research methodology included a literature review to provide important information regarding the requirements for successful dust management internationally. Data were gathered by using the survey method through questionnaires and interviews as this type of survey method allows for descriptive reporting where respondents provide information on their attitudes and perceptions. In total 37 questionnaires were distributed among two district municipalities, seven gold mining companies, ten interested and affected parties including two non-governmental organizations, as well as five specialists. A total response rate of 81.1 % was achieved. The results of the questionnaires revealed that the most significant challenges to dust management within gold mining regions of South Africa are the following: monitoring networks; monitoring methods; deposition standards; financial provisions; technical skills and capacity; lack of specific dust management plans within air quality management plans; limited regulation and enforcement; limited information and participation of government, lack of participation of interested and affected parties as well as specialists‟ expertise. All the challenges identified were then successfully linked back to the referenced literature from which the challenges were initially derived. The main aim of this research was thus successfully completed by initially identifying the challenges facing dust management within gold mining regions of South Africa and then critically evaluating them and making recommendations.