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MEI Online: Environmental Issues: Latest News: May 25th 2011

 
 

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:: Mintek Seals Off Old Asbestos Mining Site and Rehabilitates Old Mines

Mintek has successfully completed the construction of a wall to enclose a rehabilitated old asbestos mining site in the Northern Cape as part of the Department of Mineral Resources’ (DMR’s) R30-million programme to rehabilitate derelict and ownerless mines in South Africa.

The construction of the brick and palisade wall was the final step in the rehabilitation of the Old Mill Site at Prieska, an area in the town where asbestos was received for processing, to alleviate its impact on the environment and communities in its vicinity. “The gates to the asbestos site have been locked and the contractor has handed the keys to the town engineer," says Herman Cornelissen, project manager of the programme at Mintek. “We had meetings with the municipal engineer and municipal manager in Prieska as well as a site meeting attended by officials of the DMR. All tasks as agreed to in the tender have been finalised to the satisfaction of both Mintek and the Siyathemba Municipality," explains Cornelissen.

Prieska, which falls under the Siyathemba Municipality, is a historical mining town about 240km south-west of Kimberley, the Northern Cape’s provincial capital. Asbestos has been mined in the area from as early as the 1890s. The Old Mill Site was in operation from the early 1970s until it was closed down in 1986. The completion of this work allows the Siyathemba Municipality to safely develop the site of the Old asbestos Mill in the town as a memorial park to victims of asbestosis.

The enclosed area has now been covered with a layer of soil and strong Polysoil - a commercial soil bonding agent - to ensure a stable, hard cover layer that encapsulates the asbestos underground. The wall was subsequently erected to control access to the site. The project also included the construction of stormwater drainage structures around the perimeter of the site. Mintek started working on the project in 2010 after having received an initial R30-million in funding from the DMR to rehabilitate the site, as well as four other sites at Penge, Osizweni, Heuningvlei and Lusikisiki.

The DMR has granted a further R30-million for the next phase of the rehabilitation programme, which will bring the total grant to R90-million over a period of three years. According to Cornelissen five further projects have been identified for rehabilitation in the current year.

 

 

   

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