The surface mining industry association has asked the public to be vigilant and to report suspicious excavation of sand and stone that is either being sold or used for construction purposes. Damage caused to land in this manner can render it unusable for future generations and may lead to erosion or contamination of waterways or other surrounding areas.
"While the economic outlook for the industry is severely strained at present, there is no excuse for environmental negligence and adds that court rulings against directors of mining companies found to be responsible for polluting the environment in recent years should act as a warning to others to get their environmental-affairs in order," says ASPASA director, Nico Pienaar.
In certain instances, individuals and directors of companies have been found guilty of damaging the environment and faced substantial fines and, in some cases, prison sentences. The same applies to public sector employees, municipalities and state-owned enterprises who are not above the law.
"ASPASA serves on a number of environmental boards and is an important member of the Mineral Council South Africa (MCSA), as well as enjoying a healthy relationship with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. We will not hesitate to escalate any violations through these authorities in addition to reporting such incidents to the South African Police Services.
"We view environmental damage in a serious light and are on a continuous mission to clean up the quarrying industry. We work with the MCSA, SA Police Services, Green Scorpions, as well as other Government departments to identify transgressors and find remedies for the damage being caused.
"We want to stamp-out reckless damage of the environment. As an organisation, we already started two decades ago by requiring all our members to comply with environmental legislation, as well as our own internationally accepted environmental standards. As a result, our members are audited every 18-months and will lose their membership if they do not rectify any transgressions within a stipulated time period should transgressions occur," says Pienaar.
He concludes that sand and aggregates should only ever be purchased from legal suppliers. He encourages would-be customers to look out for ASPASA accreditation suppliers to rest-assured that they are dealing with an environmentally conscious company in future.