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SAHRC reflects on Jagersfontein disaster and raises concerns about environmental and community impact of mining

8 October 2022

Johannesburg - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said it is concerned about the impact of mining on the environment and on communities as it reflected on the Jagersfontein disaster.

A mine dam collapsed on Sunday, September 11, which caused flooding in the Charlesville and Itumeleng residential areas of Jagersfontein in the Free State. The collapse caused large volumes of slime to engulf and destroy homes and properties of over 300 residents. At least one person reportedly died in the disaster.

The SAHRC visited the areas on September 12 and 13 to assess the situation first hand.

The commission said it commended the urgency of the relief efforts unlocked by the government, the mining company as well as other entities to reduce the impact of the disaster on the affected communities.

Last week, the SAHRC appeared before the Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy, where it raised concerns about mining, its related impact on human rights and the need for greater parliamentary oversight in the extractive industries.

“Mining communities have been raising environmental concerns regarding underlying negative impacts of mining activities in their areas for a long period of time. While the commission continues to monitor the implementation of the relief efforts, it also welcomes reported commitment to a full investigation by the government to establish the cause of the collapse. The investigation is also expected to identify and recommend preventative, corrective and accountability measures to address this disaster,” the commission said in a statement.

It added that it remains concerned about the continued impacts on the environment and on communities associated with the extractive industry.

“The commission intends to engage with the mining company, the community and government to find short-term to long-term solutions to support efforts toward the protection of human rights,” the SAHRC said.

Source: The Star

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