The environmental impacts of coal mining in South Africa are reviewed. The primary impacts arise from mining, particularly underground mining, largely because South African coal mines are relatively shallow. Coal washing gives rises to large waste dumps, which may ignite spontaneously and cause air pollution.
What is the impact of coal mining?
Coal mining harms land, surface waters, groundwater and even our air. 4 Impacts to the land from mining cause drastic changes in the local area. Damage to plants, animals and humans occurs from the destruction and removal of habitat and environ- mental contamination.
What are the impact of mining in South Africa?
Mining has helped to shape South Africa to a greater extent than any other industry. It turned a largely pastoral economy into an industrial one. It led to the establishment of Kimberley and Johannesburg and other towns. It attracted vast quantities of foreign capital.
Why is coal mining important for South Africa?
Coal as a source of energy
Coal is South Africa’s dominant energy source. 77% of South Africa’s energy needs are provided by coal, according to the Department of Energy6. Eskom produces 95% of electricity used in South Africa7, and its coal-fired stations produce about 90% of electricity produced by the utility8.
What effect does coal mining have on the environment?
The clearing of trees, plants, and topsoil from mining areas destroys forests and natural wildlife habitats. It also promotes soil erosion and flooding, and stirs up dust pollution that can lead to respiratory problems in nearby communities.
How does coal affect human health?
Coal impacts: air pollution
They include mercury, lead, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and various other heavy metals. Health impacts can range from asthma and breathing difficulties, to brain damage, heart problems, cancer, neurological disorders, and premature death.
What are the disadvantages of coal?
The major disadvantage of coal is its negative impact on the environment. Coal-burning energy plants are a major source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to carbon monoxide and heavy metals like mercury, the use of coal releases sulfur dioxide, a harmful substance linked to acid rain.
What are positive impacts of mining?
In terms of positive impacts, mining is often a source of local employment and may contribute to local and regional economies [18, 19]. Remediation of the potential environmental impacts, for example through water treatment and ecological restoration, can have positive net effects on environmental systems .
What are the impacts of mining on environment?
Environmental impacts of mining can occur at local, regional, and global scales through direct and indirect mining practices. Impacts can result in erosion, sinkholes, loss of biodiversity, or the contamination of soil, groundwater, and surface water by the chemicals emitted from mining processes.
How mining has contributed to the economy of SA?
In 2018 the mining sector contributed R351 billion to the South African gross domestic product (GDP) A total of 456,438 people were employed in the mining sector in 2018. Each person employed in the mining sector has up to nine indirect dependants.
What is the main use of coal in South Africa?
South Africa’s indigenous energy resource base is dominated by coal. Internationally, coal is the most widely used primary fuel, accounting for about 36 percent of the total fuel consumption of the world’s electricity production. About 77 percent of South Africa’s primary energy needs are provided by coal.
Which is the biggest coal mine in South Africa?
The Mafube Colliery is currently the largest coal mining project in South Africa:
- produces 1.1 million tons of coal per year.
- supplies the Arnot Power Station in Mpumalanga.
- worth ZAR 16 billion over its lifespan.
Where is coal mostly found in South Africa?
Coal is found in South Africa in 19 coalfields (Figure 1), located mainly in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, and the Free State, with lesser amounts in Gauteng, the North West Province and the Eastern Cape.
Why is mining bad for the environment?
Across the world, mining contributes to erosion, sinkholes, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, significant use of water resources, dammed rivers and ponded waters, wastewater disposal issues, acid mine drainage and contamination of soil, ground and surface water, all of which can lead to health issues in local …
Why we should stop using coal?
As of 2010, coal accounted for 43% of global greenhouse gas emissions from fuel combustion. Simply put, to solve the climate crisis we must stop burning coal. Job number one is retiring old coal plants. … Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas, and is the leading cause of global warming.
Does mining pollute the air?
Nationwide, coal mines release a noxious group of harmful air pollutants known to be dangerous and in some cases lethal, including: Methane: Coal mines release 10 percent of all methane emissions in the United States. … Coal mines nationwide release more than 1,790 tons of volatile organic compounds every year.