Sustainable Mine Closure

Mining continues to be one of the driving forces of the South African economy. The country has experienced over 100 years of gold mining resulting in the current acid mine drainage legacy in the Witwatersrand Basin. South Africa has also been mining coal since the early 1800. In this regard coal has been the major component of the South African Power supply industry and this is predicted to continue into the latter half of the 21st century. However, after nearly 150 years of coal mining, the country is now facing closure of many coal mines. This then calls for proactive thinking regarding development of sustainable tools/solutions/approaches that can be deployed post mine closure to minimize environmental degradation, social and economic stagnation and further support community upliftment.

To establish such cooperation the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Infrastructure & Water Management together with the Dutch Regional Water Authorities started a worldwide program: ‘Blue Deal’. The Blue Deal is a program to establish long lasting partnerships between the Dutch Water Authorities and water professionals in different countries to provide 20 million people in 40 water management areas with improved flood prevention, water availability and sanitation by the year 2030.

Such Blue Deal Partnerships are established between the Dutch Water Authorities and the water professionals in South Africa, in eSwatini and in Mozambique. They will present themselves and the challenges for the coming years.

Wetskills Foundation plays an important role in the combination of intergenerational forces in this South Africa – The Netherlands cooperation on water. Since 2012 Wetskills Foundation organizes its biannual Wetskills Water Challenge in South Africa, always aligned and in cooperation with the WISA Conference. The Wetskills Challenge is a two week period where young talents with various background come together, work in mixed teams on water challenges formulated by sector partners. This year Wetskills Foundation and partners prepared the fifth Wetskills Challenges in South Africa. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this live event is postponed to February-March 2021.

In recent years the Department of Water and Sanitation of South Africa partnered Wetskills foundation to bring-in and support young talents from South Africa in Wetskills Challenges worldwide. Many other partners in South Africa, Southern Africa and The Netherlands are supporting the Wetskills Challenge programmes in the region.