The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) is considering legal action to compel the government to hold water-polluting coal miners in Mpumalanga to account.

Business Day says the CER released a report yesterday that assesses the compliance with water use licences of eight large coal mines in Mpumalanga and includes operations belonging to Anglo American, Glencore, South32, Exxaro and Wescoal.

The report found ‘gross violations and water pollution by the operators, as well as massive failures by the Department of Water & Sanitation and supposedly independent auditors’.

While non-compliance with a water use licence is a criminal offence and can lead to the suspension of the licence, the department has failed to take any meaningful enforcement action against offending companies, the CER said.

‘For these operations, it appears that the regulatory system – from issuance of a water use licence to accountability for non-compliance – has effectively disintegrated (and) companies and independent auditors are complicit in taking advantage of the regulatory breakdown.’

Business Day notes the CER launched the ‘Deadly Air’ case last month on behalf of environmental justice groups. It hopes to force the government to take meaningful action to enforce its own air quality management plan in the highly polluted ‘Highveld priority area’, which spans parts of Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

Full Business Day report

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