HomeMiningGeologist urges heritage company to rethink choice to backfill historical Jagersfontein openpit


The verdict made by means of the South African Heritage Assets Company (SAHRA) on September 15 to allow the backfilling of the historical Jagersfontein diamond mining pit with waste from a 2nd compartment of the tailings dam – to stop a secondary breach after one compartment of the dam failed on Sept. 11 – has been met with worry and opposition by means of Youssef Diamonds Liberia leader geologist and Florida World College earth and environmental sciences analysis professor Stephen Haggarty.

In an open letter addressed to the SAHRA on September 19, Haggarty instructed the affiliation to rethink the verdict that might “permit international traders to desecrate this mining icon”, creating a passionate plea to maintain the historical openpit mine.

Dubai-based diamond corporate Stargems purchased the mine and the encircling dry tailings dumps in April and stays the present proprietor and operator via its South African subsidiary Jagersfontein Tendencies.

“I in finding it incredulous {that a} heritage web site will probably be destroyed by means of a foreign-supported mining corporate. This is an absolute shame,” he stated, pointing out his funding within the subject as no longer just a geologist but in addition as a prior proprietor of the Jagersfontein farm.

He stated Jagersfontein used to be the primary mine in South Africa and claimed that the historical hollow used to be the inner most hand dug hollow on Earth.

“The primary reputation of diamond in exhausting rock used to be made in 1869 at Jagersfontein, no longer Kimberley. Kimberlite, due to this fact, is misnamed,” he stated.

He stated that probably the most inner most rocks to achieve Earth’s floor – from greater than 300 km underground – have been from Jagersfontein, in addition to probably the most inner most diamonds, from an estimated 600 km underground or extra.

Consistent with newswire Reuters, the corporate reprocessing outdated tailings across the disused pit to get well diamonds Jagersfontein Tendencies has lodged 5 programs over the last decade with the SAHRA in quest of permission to retailer liquid mine waste within the pit slightly than the dam.

The newest request used to be made on August 17, a couple of month earlier than the tailings dam collapsed, ensuing within the dying of 1 individual, harm to many others and important infrastructure harm in close by communities.

The Division of Water and Sanitation accredited the quick pumping of slime from the second one compartment of the tailings dam into the pit on September 12, prompting the SAHRA to approve the backfilling on September 15.

Jagersfontein Tendencies first carried out to backfill the historic pit in September 2012, and the SAHRA granted it permission in June 2013. On the other hand, the Jagersfontein Neighborhood Agree with appealed the verdict, prompting the corporate to withdraw its utility in January 2014.

“I grew up amongst slime dams, noticed them constructed, noticed them stuffed, and no longer one ever collapsed. The brand new house owners must be obligated by means of regulation to have a strong, engineeringly [sic] designed slimes dam constructed. If sections of the outdated dam stay, those must be bulldozed onto the greater than ok 4 000 ha of farmland, and no longer pumped into the massive hollow,” he steered.

He additionally famous that Jagersfontein, which is positioned within the semi-arid Karoo, is perfect for sheep farming however at risk of lengthy classes of drought.

“The massive hollow has served as a supply of water for the group because the Seventies. The pumping of slimes into the massive hollow will result in intensive contamination and can render the availability non-potable,” he warned.

He stated that the brand new tailings operation could be not going to last longer than 5 years and indisputably no more than ten years, which he believed made it glaring that the Jagersfontein Heritage web site must be “preserved and no longer destroyed by means of temporary traders”. 

In line with Haggarty’s issues, World Diamond Community’s Dr John Bristow informed Mining Weekly that he supported the infilling of the Jagersfontein hollow.

“We’d all like to look those historic websites safe and preserved for posterity however the easy truth is that we have got a rustic ruled by means of an incapable and corrupt State, and we’ve departments . . .  that don’t perceive their very own regulations, are incapable of enforcing law, and there’s no regulation and order within the nation. We merely can’t manage to pay for this ‘luxurious’,” he stated.

He added that the one explanation why the well-known Giant Hollow Museum in Kimberley remained a world-class facility – in a “damaged the town” – used to be as a result of diamond miner De Beers nonetheless supported the ability – implying that, with out such strengthen from the non-public sector, the Jagersfontein hollow would no longer be as sexy as a vacationer vacation spot nor as protected.

Impartial geologist Invoice McKechnie additionally added his ideas.

“The Jagersfontein openpit is an excessively spectacular and massive mining pit and I agree that it could be unhappy to lose it. On the other hand, it’s worth as a heritage web site is proscribed and, if tailings reprocessing is to proceed, there could also be no different viable choice instead of to permit dumping into the openpit,” he informed Mining Weekly.

He stated that, if the pit have been to be stuffed in, not one of the medical and geological worth could be misplaced and that, if probably the most outdated dumps weren’t totally reprocessed, some fabrics would proceed to be to be had for long term geological analysis.

“The one individuals affected would be the few other people sufficient to talk over with that a part of the Loose State to view an openpit mine. There’s no longer a lot else to look,” he stated, including that Haggarty’s characterisation of Jagersfontein because the inner most hand dug hollow on Earth could also be matter to dispute.

Additionally, McKechnie believed that the foreign-owned nature of the corporate used to be no longer of significance.

“What’s necessary is that, in keeping with the proof of the disaster on Sept. 11, the on-site control of a tailings disposal facility used to be allowed to become worse to such an extent that this useless and tragic tournament happened,” he stated.

 He famous that, if reprocessing of tailings have been to proceed, then dumping into the openpit could also be the one possible resolution.

“Must the tailings reprocessing operation no longer be allowed to proceed, this is able to upload to the woes of an already very wired group that has only a few choices so far as jobs and financial process is anxious,” McKechnie stated.

As for changing the Jagersfontein pit right into a museum comparable to the only in Kimberley, McKechnie stated that no longer a lot has been completed to advertise the historic sides of the web site.

“It took a few years of high-priced effort by means of De Beers and others to show the Kimberley openpit museum right into a facility this is now a precious enchantment and I doubt that it could be simple to procure budget from govt or different events to expand a equivalent facility at Jagersfontein,” he stated.

In line with Haggarty’s water contamination issues, McKechnie stated that Kimberlite tailings are normally thought to be to be chemically inert and that the disposal of processed tailings and slimes – assuming no exterior contaminants are added all the way through processing – would no longer be anticipated to noticeably regulate flooring water compositions.

“If the outdated mine is getting used as a supply of water for the city, it’s going to be conceivable to check for doable contamination previous to disposal. The enter of slimes will make the water within the hollow cloudy however this may increasingly settle out and this will also be controlled all the way through pumping if essential,” he stated.

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