The liability of mines for the prevention, minimisation and remediation of pollution : a legal analysis
The mining industry has played a major role in the history and demography of South Africa and has been the dominant contributor to the South African economy for more than a century. However, this contribution has been over emphasised when viewed in relation to mining related environmental impacts. Mining related waste and pollution have the potential to cause a significant undesirable effect on health and the environment because of its inherent toxicological, chemical and physical characteristics. With the possible negative effects of pollution determined, a further concern is that someone needs to be held liable for the loss of use of the resource or damage to human health or well–being. When mining activities negatively affect the health and well–being of people and impacts adversely on the entire array of interests safeguarded by section 24 of the Constitution, it is paramount that mines be held liable for future, present and historic pollution to prevent, minimise and/or remediate pollution. Environmental law will play a key role in this respect. Environmental laws must, however, be well defined for mining companies to operate within these legal boundaries on a range of issues such as; the mining impact on the environment, the prevention and minimisation of this impact and how mines must rehabilitate the area after mining is completed. This study investigates the extent to which the South African environmental law regime regulates mines and whether these laws adequately govern the mining industry’s liability for present, future as well as historic pollution which is affecting the nation’s health and safety.
- Law