Original Research

Public lies, private looting and the forced closure of Grootvlei Gold Mine, South Africa

Tracey J.M. McKay, Milton Milaras
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 13, No 1 | a347 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v13i1.347 | © 2017 Tracey J.M. McKay, Milton Milaras | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 June 2016 | Published: 28 February 2017

About the author(s)

Tracey J.M. McKay, Department of Environmental Science, University of South Africa, South Africa
Milton Milaras, Department of Environmental Science, University of South Africa, South Africa


Mine closure and acid mine drainage (AMD) are major interrelated challenges facing South Africa’s Witwatersrand gold mines. As a result of mining, the East, West and Central Rand compartments of the Witwatersrand Basin are interconnected, making AMD a regional problem. Consequently, the South African National Department of Mineral Resources recommends regional mine closure strategies. Unfortunately, the mismanagement of Grootvlei Gold Mine and its AMD problem resulted in premature and unplanned closure of the mine; massive job losses; pollution of a river and its Ramsar wetland site, as well as a significant setback for regional mine closure. Although directors were held civilly liable for damages to the mine, to date no one has been held liable for the water pollution, creating an impression that environmental laws can be flouted with impunity.


mine closure; acid mine drainage; non-compliance; environmental legislation; company law; premature forced closure


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